The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Monday issued additional safety instructions to two Indian carriers that operate the Boeing 737 Max aircraft. Pilots of SpiceJet and Jet Airways should have at least 1,000 hours of flying experience to command these planes, PTI reported.
The direction came a day after a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa. All 157 on board the plane were killed. An Indonesian aircraft that crashed in October, killing everyone on board, was also the same make.
Minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu on Monday had asked the DGCA to conduct a safety assessment of all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft operated in India.
“This is the 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 (five aircraft) have these aircraft.”
The aviation watchdog said interim safety measures are being taken with inputs available at this stage. “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,” it said.
The DGCA also asked the airlines to ensure that their engineers and maintenance personnel comply with a number of requirements with respect to the Boeing 737 Max planes. The operators have to ensure that no such aircraft in their fleet is operated without compliance with the DGCA’s latest directions with effect from noon on March 12.
In a statement, Jet Airways clarified that while it has five of the aircraft, it is “currently not flying” any of them. “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,” it said.
The Ethiopian Airlines plane had taken off from Addis Ababa 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 had said on Sunday.
Earlier on Monday, the flight recorder was recovered in a partially damaged condition from the crash site.