- DGCA To Question SpiceJet, Jet Airways On Boeing 737 MAX After Ethiopian Plane Crash
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- At Least Dozen UN-Affiliated People Killed In Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 737 Crash: Report
- China Grounds All Boeing 737 Max 8s Aircraft After Ethiopian Plane Crash
- Ethiopian Airlines Grounds Boeing 737 MAX 8 After Crash
The DGCA on Monday issued additional strict safety instructions for flying Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes by SpiceJet and Jet Airways, including that the pilot-in-command should have at least 1,000 hours of flying experience, a day after an aircraft crash that killed 157 people in Ethiopia.
Taking serious note of the second deadly crash involving a 737 MAX plane globally in less than five months, the civil aviation ministry also ordered a "safety assessment" of these aircraft and the watchdog is also holding consultation with safety regulators around the world.
In a statement, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said interim safety measures are being taken with inputs available at this stage.
"The minimum experience level of crew operating B737 Max aircraft to fly as PIC (Pilot-in-Command) is 1,000 hours and co-pilot is 500 hours on Boeing 737 NG aircraft type," the regulator said.
Besides, SpiceJet and Jet Airways have been asked to ensure various requirements are complied with by engineering and maintenance personnel with respect to 737 MAX 8 planes.
These include conditions that Minimum Equipment List (MEL) would not be released for operating an aircraft in case dual auto pilot mode and certain other parts are inoperative.
Any error which comes across would have to be rectified before releasing the aircraft for line maintenance as well as ensuring that angle of attack' (AOA) is in null position.
Generally, AOA is crucial in determining the angle at which an aircraft flies relative to the direction of air.
"The DGCA will continue to closely monitor the situation and may impose/ take any other operational/ maintenance measures/ restrictions based on the information received from accident investigation agency/ FAA (Federal Aviation Administration/ Boeing," the statement said.
The operators have to ensure that no MAX aircraft in their fleet is operated without compliance with DGCA's latest directions with effect from 1200 hours on March 12, the statement said.
In a statement, cash-strapped Jet Airways said Monday it is not currently operating any of the five 737 MAX planes in its fleet.
There was no comment from SpiceJet regarding the 737 MAX aircraft.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has asked aviation watchdog DGCA to undertake safety assessment of Boeing 737 MAX planes operated by domestic airlines.
"Safety of the passengers is our utmost concern. Directed Secretary and DGCA to take appropriate action immediately," Prabhu said in a tweet.
Aviation experts criticised the DGCA guideline on minimum flying hours and said that the regulator should have grounded all the aircraft immediately.
“The two aircraft that crashed were being flown by experienced pilots. So the DGCA safety guideline regarding minimum flying hours doesn’t make any sense to me. It shows that regulator is clueless about what action it has to take,” says SS Panesar, a retired pilot and air safety expert.
“Is DGCA worried about private operators’ business or safety of fliers? All the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft should be grounded till the exact cause of crash be ascertained,” Panesar said.
Jet Airways has placed orders for 225 737 MAX planes with Boeing and some have already been delivered.
SpiceJet, which has embarked on ambitious expansion plans, has a deal with Boeing for up to 205 aircraft, including at least 155 737 MAX 8 planes.
The 737 MAX is the fastest selling airplane in Boeing's history.
Currently, SpiceJet has 13 737 MAX 8 planes, as per data available with planespotters.net website.
On Sunday, 157 people, including four Indians, were killed when a Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines' 737 MAX aircraft crashed after taking off from Addis Ababa.
This was the second time in less than five months that a Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane crashed. In October 2018, an aircraft operated by Lion Air crashed killing over 180 people in Indonesia.
In the wake of the Ethiopia accident, various jurisdictions and airlines have initiated actions, including grounding of the 737 MAX aircraft. The Civil Aviation Administration of China has asked its local carriers to stop commercial flights with 737 MAX 8 planes and Ethiopian Airlines has grounded its fleet of such aircraft.
(With inputs from PTI)