Indonesia lifts ban on Boeing 737 Max three years after deadly Lion Air crash that killed 189 people

Indonesia on Tuesday announced it has lifted the ban on Boeing 737 Max, three years after the Lion Air crash which killed all 189 people on board.

The aircraft was grounded globally after a similarly deadly accident in March 2019 involving one of the aircraft operated by Ethiopian Airlines.

On Monday, Ethiopian Airlines said it will resume flights from February. The approval for the aircraft’s return in Indonesia comes months after it returned to service in the United States and Europe. Recently, countries including Australia, Japan, India, Malaysia, and Singapore also lifted the ban on the aircraft.

Indonesia’s transport ministry said in a statement that lifting of the ban would be effective immediately and that it follows an evaluation of changes to the aircraft’s system by regulators.

The ministry added that the airlines must follow airworthiness directives and inspect their planes before they can fly the 737 Max again. The government officials would also inspect the planes, it added.

The country’s national carrier Garuda Indonesia, which operated on 737 Max prior to the ban, said it had no plans to reintroduce the aircraft to its fleet as it focuses on debt restructuring.

Irfan Setiaputra, chief executive of the national carrier, told Reuters that the airline has plans to cut its fleet from 142 to 66 planes under the plan.

On 29 October 2018, A Lion Air flight crashed into the Java Sea 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta’s International Airport, killing all 189 people on board. In March 2019, 157 people onboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed six minutes after takeoff.

Anton Sahadi, a relative of one of the passengers killed in the Lion Air crash, has urged the government to ensure proper management of the risks before returning the aircraft to service.

“The trauma is still there,” he said.

Meanwhile, a disused Boeing 737 was moved to a clifftop above a popular tourist beach, in an attempt to repurpose it as an attraction.


Douglas Mateo

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