Nigerian airline operator, Air Peace, is currently caught in a web of global politics as it tries to expand its fleet.
Just like some of its contemporaries in the aviation industry, Air Peace had ordered for Boeing‘s 737 Max before the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines deadly crashes which killed many people. Four months since the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March, Boeing’s Max model is still not certified airworthy, and it’s all because of politics.
Although global industry players were readying themselves for the fourth quarter as the date when Boeing’s banned MAX models would fly again, the Acting Director General of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Dan Elwell, recently disclosed that if necessary, it will take a year before the ban can be lifted. This, he said, is aimed at ensuring safety.
The late approval of the fixed software will likely delay the manufacturing time-frame of Air Peace’s order, which was initially billed for 2021. Already, Boeing cut its production of 737 aircraft from 52 per month to 42 amid the Boeing 737 MAX groundings.
Disagreement over the lifting of ban: Several countries have their own requirement different from that of the US. The likes of Canada, Indonesia, Europe, and Brazil have stated that they have personal conditions that must be met before they can grant the all-clear for the plane’s return to their airspace. It has even been reported that China will likely be the last country to approve 737 Max for further checks; this nullifies the possibility of a consensus on requirements, thereby affecting a unilateral ban lift on the same day.
Besides the certification delay, another obstacle preventing Boeing’s 737 Max from the airspace is the indecision by FAA as to whether pilots should be required to undergo simulator training (an exercise done to learn new plane model) on the updated Max – a requirement global regulators may insist upon. This, according to media reports, could further delay the return of 737 Max.
In the meantime, Air Peace could avoid this political game by canceling its order like Indonesia’s Garuda did; pitching tent with Boeing’s competitors. But it doesn’t seem like the company is ready to do that. Its Founder and Chairman, Allen Onyema, had stated in April that the calls for it to cancel its Boeing orders are premature.
Air Peace owns about 27 aircraft. Its bid to increase its fleet size with ten additional brand new Boeing 737 MAX 800 aircraft will probably take more time than expected. Air Peace is the only Nigerian airline company that have an order for delivery of 737 Max.
Note: The Boeing 737-Max 8 plane has been credited for fuel efficiency and has been one of Boeing’s best-selling jets. More than 370 aircraft was delivered since 2017, with about 5,000 placed orders.