Domestic carrier SpiceJet on Tuesday claimed that it has already implemented precautionary measures while flying the “highly sophisticated” Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
The statement came a day after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation issued additional safety instructions to SpiceJet and Jet Airways – the two Indian carriers that operate Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. A Boeing 737 Max 8 plane operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa on Sunday. All 157 on board the plane were killed. An Indonesian aircraft that crashed in October, killing everyone on board, was also of the same make.
“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,” SpiceJet’s Head of Communications Tushar Srivastava said on Twitter. “We are actively engaged with both Boeing and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and will continue to put safety first, as always. We have already implemented all additional precautionary measures as directed by the DGCA yesterday.”
Jet Airways has clarified that while it has five of the aircraft, it is “currently not flying” any of them. SpiceJet is operating 12 such aircraft.
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.
The aviation regulator has directed that pilots of SpiceJet and Jet Airways should have at least 1,000 hours of flying experience to command these planes, and also asked airlines to ensure 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.
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. The plane reportedly caught fire before it crashed. There were people of 33 nationalities on board the plane, including four Indians.
Ban on aircraft
Several countries have become increasingly worried about the safety of this plane. Australia and Singapore on Tuesday banned use of Boeing 737 MAX in its airspace. China had on Monday ordered domestic airlines to stop flying the jet. Regulators in the United States have sought urgent improvements in the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft but will not ground the fleet for now, according to AFP.
Ethiopian Airlines and Indonesia have grounded their entire fleet of the Boeing Max jets for inspection, while airlines in South Africa, Brazil and Mexico have stopped using their jets. Some pilots in Argentina have refused to fly them. Malaysia has asked Malaysia Airlines to review its orders for the Max 8 aircraft.