Vietnam re-approves MAX to transit through its airspace

written by Hannah Dowling | April 7, 2021

Vietnam’s civil aviation authority has officially lifted its ban on the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft passing through its airspace for the first time in two years.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) first proposed last month that the MAX be permitted to transit through Vietnamese airspace one again, following the vigorous recertification efforts of Boeing throughout the last two years.

On Tuesday, Vietnam announced that while it would allow the MAX to pass through its airspace, the CAAV has been ordered to continue monitoring safety issues on the MAX, and will consult with other nations including China and Russia on whether or not to recertify the aircraft under its jurisdiction.

As it currently stands, the MAX is unable to operate to and from Vietnam, nor be imported into Vietnam for use by airlines.

While there are currently no airlines that operate the 737 MAX in Vietnam, low-cost carrier VietJet has a standing order for 200 MAX jets.

The airline will be required to wait until Vietnamese authorities independently recertify the jet before it will be permitted to import the plane. The CAAV has also said it will require six to 12 months to process the import permit on MAX jets.

Vietnam, China and Russia are among the last global aviation authorities to make their decision on the 737 MAX.

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Some authorities still question the safety of the jet following two fatal crashes that occurred five months apart in Indonesia and Ethiopia, which killed 346 people in total.

The US Federal Aviation Administration, which had been working closely with Boeing throughout the recertification process, finally reversed its grounding order on the 737 MAX in November last year, after 22 months.

Brazil made the decision to recertify the MAX for operations just a week after the US.

Then, authorities in the EU, UK and Canada all followed suit in January 2021, while the UAE and Australia approved MAX operations in February.

Meanwhile, just last week, the FAA approved the design for the new Boeing 737-8200, a variant of the MAX family of aircraft.

The denser, 197-seat MAX variant is essentially designed specifically for budget carriers, with its biggest supporter and launch customer being European budget giant Ryanair.

Ryanair made its first order for the 197-seat jet in late 2014. The agreement includes 100 firm orders and 100 options. Ryanair later made another firm order for 10 jets in 2017, and a further 25 in 2018.

Just weeks after recertification, in December 2020, Ryanair announced an order for a further 75 MAX aircraft in a deal worth over $9 billion.

Ryanair group chief executive Michael O’Leary called the December 737 MAX order “the deal of the new century”, after touting the airline would secure the deal at a significant discount.

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