New Delhi/Mumbai, March 13 (IANS) India’s civil aviation regulator late on Tuesday suspended the operations of Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft, after several other countries restrained their airlines from operating the aircraft type.
In a late night development, the Ministry of Civil Aviation tweeted: “DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) has taken the decision to ground the Boeing 737-MAX planes immediately. These planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations.”
“As always, passenger safety remains our top priority. We continue to consult closely with regulators around the world, airlines and aircraft manufacturers to ensure passenger safety.”
Further, Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu took to Twitter to direct officials to prepare a contingency plan to avoid inconvenience to passengers.
“While passenger safety is a zero tolerance issue, efforts are already on to minimise the impact on passenger movement as their convenience is important,” he tweeted.
Globally many countries have banned the operations of the aircraft after an Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 737-800 MAX flight crashed on Sunday killing all 157 people on board.
On Tuesday, the UK joined Singapore, Australia and a number of other countries in banning Boeing 737 Max planes from operating in or over its airspace.
In India, SpiceJet and Jet Airways operate 17 Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft. While SpiceJet has 12 aircraft, Jet has five planes of this type.
Earlier in the day, SpiceJet in a statement said: “The Boeing 737 MAX is a highly sophisticated aircraft. It has flown hundreds of thousands of hours globally and some of the world’s largest airlines are flying this aircraft.”
“We are actively engaged with both Boeing and the DGCA and will continue to put safety first, as always. We have already implemented all additional precautionary measures as directed by the DGCA yesterday (Monday).”
On its part, Boeing said: “Safety is Boeing’s number one priority and we have full confidence in the safety of MAX. We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets. We’ll continue to engage with all of them to ensure they have the information they need to have confidence in operating their fleets or returning them to service.
“It is also important to note that the Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.”
On Monday, India’s civil aviation regulator had issued fresh safety directives for operations of this make of aircraft in the country.
“The issue has been reviewed in DGCA today (Monday) along with the Indian operators covering all reported snags or defects of significant nature along with rectification action(s) taken on these aircraft,” the regulator said in a statement on Monday.
“Compliance of an earlier advisory issued by DGCA post Lion Air accident on December 3, 2018 was also reviewed. During the review, it was observed that the ‘Daily Defect’ and ‘Daily Incident’ reports contained defects of routine nature and no significant concerns were observed.”
Accordingly, the directive deals with the technical aspect and operational.