Indonesian aviation regulators have lifted a temporary operational ban on the Boeing 737 Max 9, following the completion of “thorough inspections”. 

In a statement dated 18 January, director-general of civil aviation M Kristi Endah Murni adds the country’s three Max 9s – operated by low-cost carrier Lion Air – were “not affected” by airworthiness directives issued in the USA after an accident involving an Alaska Airlines Max 9.


Source: Pexels/Jeffry Surianto

Lion Air operates three Max 9s.

The event on 5 January saw a plugged mid-cabin door blow out from the aircraft as it climbed out of Portland, Oregon. US regulators have already initiated a grounding of the type as investigations continue. 

Indonesian regulators then grounded the country’s three Max 9s (registered PK-LRF, PK-LRG, PK-LRI) on 6 January for further inspections, even though Lion’s aircraft do not have plugged emergency exit doors. 

This is because the Lion Air jets are operated in a high-density configuration, unlike the Alaska Max 9 involved in the accident. 

Indonesia’s transport ministry carried out joint aircraft inspections with Lion Air, while keeping in contact with Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration, says Kristi. 

“Based on the results of our inspection and the results of meetings with the FAA, the three [Max 9] aircraft can be operated again,” she adds. 

According to the directorate-general of civil aviation, the operational ban was lifted on 11 January. However, flight tracking data shows that the three jets have yet to fully return to service: of the three, only one aircraft (PK-LRI) has resumed flying, operated one flight each on 14 and 15 January. 

Lion is the sole operator of the Max 9 in Asia-Pacific, where the smaller Max 8 more widely operated. One of Lion’s 737 Max 8 was involved in one of two fatal crashes that led to a global grounding of the 737 Max series in 2019.