Partial recertification? Russia allows Belavia’s Boeing 737 MAX to fly in its airspace

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Has Russia lifted the ban on the Boeing 737 MAX? Despite some uncertainty about the actual decision, according to information from the Belarusian Ministry of Transport this morning, this appears to be the case. However, only if the plane belongs to an airline of a “friendly” country. One of those “friends” is, of course, Belarus, whose flag carrier Belavia operated a 737 MAX flight from Minsk (MSQ) to Tbilisi (TBS), Georgia, via Russian airspace on Wednesday.

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Flying wide around the war zone

Flight B2735 was operated by a Boeing 737 MAX 8 registered EW-528PA, which guarded a wide area around the northeastern border of Ukraine. A second round-trip flight to Georgia via Russia was made by the same aircraft on Thursday, this time from Minsk to Kutaisi (KUT). Again, it circled around passing through Kazakhstan airspace. It is the only 737 MAX in the Belavia fleet.

Wednesday’s B2735 flight was the 737 MAX’s first commercial flight in Russian airspace since the type was grounded in 2019. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

Official statement – but only from neighboring authorities

There has been no official statement from Russian aviation authorities allowing the Boeing 737 MAX to return to the air. Meanwhile, on Thursday, July 21 at 8:37 a.m., the Belarusian Ministry of Transport posted a notice on its Telegram channel stating that,

“Russia has authorized 737 MAX flights. The first aircraft is that of Belavia, operating a flight from Minsk to Tbilisi. The ban remains in force for countries on the list of hostile states. The corresponding notification (NOTAM) has been published by the Aeronautics Information Center.”

Russia’s state-run TASS news agency shared the Belarusian statement but surprisingly has no further information from national authorities. In the current state of the geopolitical situation, it is not easy to get a direct answer from Rosaviatsia, the Russian civil aviation authority.

Boeing does not provide much information on this either, although given the resentment over the current sanctions, it is highly likely that the Russian authorities communicate little with the aircraft manufacturer. A Boeing spokesperson shared the following,

“We will defer to the regulator for any information on this subject. Since November 2020, more than 190 countries out of 195 have opened their airspace to the 737 MAX.”

That Russia did allow some 737 MAX flights into its airspace is a fact. However, until we receive an official confirmation, we cannot say for sure that it has not been founded in all areas. The two MAX 8 aircraft of the Russian private airline S7 remain parked in Novosibirsk and have not even carried out maintenance flights since 2019.


Who else could drive it?

As Russia only has two 737 MAXs, whether or not it chooses to retire the jet has no major consequences for domestic traffic. However, major Middle East MAX operator flydubai, which currently operates flights between Dubai (DXB) and Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) with its 737-800s, would likely welcome the inclusion.

The UAE did not directly sanction Russia and flights continued to operate between the two countries. Russia’s current list of “hostile states” includes 48 countries and territories, all “Western” except for Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Micronesia.

We will continue to monitor the situation with Russia’s dismantling of the MAX and provide you with an update as soon as we know more.

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Source: Minister of Transport Belarus via Telegram, TASS

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