The 737 MAX’s largest operator in Africa joins other airlines in the resumption of deliveries amid mixed reactions. The Boeing 737 MAX is the fourth generation of the Boeing 737, a narrowbody airliner manufactured by Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
Three jets have been delivered to the airline, with more to come.
The first to arrive was accepted on June 30th, and is registered ET-AWJ. It departed Boeing’s facility in Seattle, Washington, headed for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with a stopover at Manchester Airport. The delivery to its final destination took place on July 2, 2022. The aircraft has since been busy with flight history data showing visits to major airports around Africa, India, and Turkey.
The 737 MAX numbers two and three are registered ET-AWK and ET-AXG, both delivered in July. The first made the trip on July 15th, stopping in Manchester on route. The second, traveling on July 25th, instead stopped over at Shannon before arriving in Addis Ababa. Both have been busy operating routes around Africa, the Middle East and India since arriving.
Resuming operations with the 737 MAX
Following a meticulous and detailed reassessment of the improvements and redesigns of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, Ethiopian Airlines has remained committed to the 737 MAX as part of its future fleet. This is despite the airline being one of the two that suffered direct losses as a result of the MAX, following the crash of flight 302 in March 2019.
Following the worldwide grounding of the type, in November 2020, the Federal Aviation Authority allowed the type to fly once more. First to fly the MAX after the 20-month suspension was Brazilian airline GOL, swiftly followed by dozens of other operators. Despite his previous resistance to inducting the type back into the fleet, former CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Tewolde GebreMariam indicated late last year that it would be returning to scheduled services. The statement from Tewolde, issued in December 2021, said,
“It is in line with this guiding principle that we are now returning the B737 Max to service not only after the recertification by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), EASA of Europe, Transport Canada, CAAC, ECAA, and other regulatory bodies but also after the fleet type’s return to service by 36 airlines around the world.”
The airline subsequently started service with the 737 MAX in February this year. With its latest three deliveries, Ethiopian Airlines has a fleet of seven 737 MAX, with an order book of 23 still outstanding. According to ch-aviation, another five are built and have their ET registrations allocated (AFF- I and AZA), which could indicate more deliveries are imminent.
Most countries in the world have lifted the ban on the 737 MAX, although China remains a notable exception. Airlines are happily taking delivery of the type, and many have placed new commitments for the MAX, including the likes of Delta and Qatar. However, Lion Air of Indonesia, the other airline to have suffered a catastrophic crash involving the jet, is yet to take delivery, although it has received three in 2022 for its subsidiary Batik Air Malaysia. Lion Air has over 180 737 MAX on order from Boeing.