Russia ungrounds Boeing 737 MAX, but only “friendly” operators allowed in


The Boeing 737 MAX is allowed to fly again in Russia, over two years after it was grounded. However, only MAX aircraft belonging to countries “friendly” to Russia will be permitted to fly.  

On July 20, 2022, the Russian Aeronautical Information Centre published a NOTAM (Ed: notice to air missions) recalling an earlier notification which banned Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft from flying in Russian airspace. 

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The new notification was immediately followed up by another NOTAM that prohibited 737 MAX aircraft belonging to the countries in the “list of unfriendly nations” from entering the country. 

Russia therefore becomes one of the last countries to unground the controversial model, which was grounded following two prominent crashes in 2019.  

The aircraft was allowed to fly in the US in November 2020 and in EU in January 2021. Other countries followed soon after, although China, a major market for Boeing, has yet to lift its grounding.

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The first Boeing 737 MAX to enter Russian airspace after the NOTAM was published was a Boeing 737 MAX 8 belonging to Belarusian flag carrier Belavia, which conducted flight B2735 from Minsk (MSQ) to Tbilisi (TBS) during the afternoon of July 20, according to Flightradar24 data. 

Most of the operators of the 737 MAX belong to the list of the countries banned from flying to Russia, which were designated as “unfriendly” following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. 

Only one Russian airline – S7 airlines – has the 737 MAX in its fleet. The two aircraft were leased from an unnamed Western company in 2019 and remain parked at the time of writing of this article. 

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