Minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu on Monday asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to conduct a safety assessment of all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft operated in India. The direction came a day after a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed soon after taking off from Addis Ababa airport. All 157 on board the plane were killed.
“Directed officials of DGCA to undertake safety assessment of Boeing 737-MAX [being flown by domestic carriers],” Prabhu, the Union minister for Civil Aviation, tweeted. “Safety of the passengers is our utmost concern. Directed Secretary and DGCA to take appropriate action immediately.”
Indian carriers Jet Airways and Spicejet have 737 Max aircraft in their fleet.
Jet Airways issued a statement on Monday clarifying that while it has five of the aircraft it is “is currently not flying” any of them, PTI reported. “The airline is in contact with the manufacturer and the regulator in context of this development, and remains committed to implementing all directives or advisories that may be published by those authorised,” the airline said.
The DGCA has ordered that only pilots with 1,000 hours of experience can fly Boeing 737-Max that the Indian airlines are using. “This is second fatal accident to B-737-Max aircraft within a span of five months,” the aviation regulator said, according to ANI. “At present, two Indian carriers, SpiceJet [12 aircraft] and Jet Airways [5 aircraft] have these aircraft.”
DGCA said it will continue to closely monitor the situation and may impose or take any other operational or maintenance measures and restrictions based on the information received from accident investigation agency.
The aircraft had taken off from the Ethiopian capital on Sunday at 8.38 am local time (11.08 am Indian time), but lost contact at 8.44 am near Bishoftu, 60 km southeast of Addis Ababa. The flight was going to Nairobi in Kenya. An eye-witness told AFP the plane caught fire before it crashed. There were people of 33 nationalities on board the plane. Four Indians were also among those killed in the crash, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday.
Media reports, earlier on Monday, said the flight recorder from the air crash site was recovered, but in a partially damaged condition.