MIAMI – The Republic of Kenya joins Nigeria in giving the Boeing 737 MAX the green light to operate in the East African country again.

On February 21, 2021, both countries’ Civil Aviation Authorities signaled their satisfaction with Boeing’s modification and recertification program, following the aircraft’s 20-month grounding.

While there are no native Boeing 737 MAX operators in Kenya, the release of the ban on the aircraft type in that country allows other carriers, such as Turkish Airways (TK) and Ethiopian Airlines (ET) to operate the aircraft into the country.

An Ethiopian 737-800NG, Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

Reintroduction of the Boeing 737 MAX in Africa

Ethiopian, however, has been slow to reintroduce the aircraft to service, stating in August 2020 that it wanted to be the last airline to resume flying the type. According to CEO Tewolde Gebremariam, ET will tentatively restart Boeing 737 MAX operations in July 2021.

The tragic loss of one of their own Boeing 737 MAX 8 in March 2019, which claimed the lives of 157 onboard, triggered the aircraft’s global grounding. Boeing has since worked on addressing critical problems identified with the aircraft’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

Regional airlines Air Peace (P4), Arik Air (W3), and Green Africa Airways (Q9) have a combined 68 737 MAX 8 airframes on firm order, with Q9 reserving options for an additional 50 MAX 8’s.

A Turkish 737MAX8, Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

About the Boeing 737 MAX

The Boeing 737 MAX is the most advanced version of Boeing’s most successful aircraft line, with Boeing offering four variants of the aircraft and amassing an excess of 4000 orders.

The aircraft was developed as Boeing’s response to the Airbus A320NEO family but has since been the subject of significant scrutiny and ultimate recertification by various aviation authorities after its worldwide grounding following Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 602 crashes in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

The FAA, EASA, and NCAA, among others, have cleared the aircraft type to return to service after implementing various systems and design changes and updated training requirements for pilots.

Boeing 737 MAX 7 Photo: Daniel Gorun/Airways