From additional engineering and maintenance checks to minimum flying experience for pilots, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Monday issued a fresh set of directives to be followed by Jet Airways and SpiceJet, which use the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The move comes a day after this Boeing model flown by Ethiopian Airlines crashed near Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board, including four Indians.
Jet Airways and SpiceJet operate a total of 17 jets of this model. “This is the second fatal accident of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft within a span of five months…The issue has been reviewed in DGCA today along with the Indian operators covering all reported snags/defects of significant nature along with rectification actions taken on these aircraft,” the regulator said Monday.
While the DGCA has stopped short of grounding the aircraft, authorities in China and Indonesia have forced the plane out of service as a precaution.
China’s Civil Aviation Administration said its decision is in line with the principle of “zero tolerance for security risks” and that it would consult the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing. Indonesia, too, grounded the aircraft to “ensure flight safety”. A spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines said the carrier had grounded its remaining four 737 MAX 8 planes until further notice as an “extra safety precaution”.
The DGCA said engineers and maintenance personnel have been instructed to factor in additional checks, particularly those pertaining to the autopilot and stall management systems. It said that airlines must also ensure that crew members should have undergone training according to updated guidelines issued by DGCA on December 3, following the Lion Air accident in Indonesia involving the same model.
According to the regulator, the pilot commanding the aircraft should have at least 1,000 hours of flying experience on the Boeing 737 NG aircraft type, and the co-pilot at least 500 hours. Jet Airways has placed orders for 225 737 MAX planes, while SpiceJet has a deal with Boeing for up to 205 aircraft, including at least 155 737 MAX 8 planes.
In a statement, Jet Airways said it was not flying any of the five Boeing 737 MAX planes in its fleet currently.