Civil Aviation Authority 'carefully reviewing' 737 MAX information from Boeing, FAA before allowing it to operate in New Zealand again

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says it is carefully reviewing information on the Boeing 737 MAX after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rescinded their grounding order on the aircraft on November 18.

In a statement to Newshub, CAA spokesperson Pania Shingleton said the organisation was working with the FAA to understand the work it and Boeing have undertaken to allow the 737 MAX to restart service.

"We will discuss the information contained in the Airworthiness Directive and the possible lifting of restrictions with other aviation regulators in Australia, Europe and the United States to ensure stringent safety requirements are met before the aircraft can operate in New Zealand again," Shingleton said.

Last week, the FAA cleared the 737 MAX 8 to return to the skies for commercial use after being grounded for more than 20 months. The aircraft model was involved in two fatal crashes which happened within five months of each other in 2018 and 2019, in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing a total of 346 people.

On Monday, families of the Ethiopian crash victims said they felt "sheer disappointment and renewed grief" after the FAA's decision to return the aircraft to service.

"The US authorities shouldn't have lifted the grounding order this quickly," Aris Sugiono, who lost family in the crash said.

Currently only one airline that operates in New Zealand is affected by the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX - Fiji Airways had been operating the aircraft type between Aotearoa and Fiji until the grounding was put in place.

"In March 2019, the CAA used a specific restriction on the Boeing 737 MAX and Fiji Airways so it could not fly the aircraft in and out of New Zealand. A NOTAM (notice to airmen) was not issued by the CAA,"  Shingleton said.

"The CAA will be reviewing the information provided to define a pathway to lift the restrictions on the aircraft once we are satisfied. To remove the restrictions, we will be requiring Fiji Airways to also demonstrate that the aircraft meets our requirements."

Shingleton said that process will take some time to complete, but the CAA is already working with Fiji Airways on the likely requirements.