NEW DELHI :
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered inspections for cracks on a portion of SpiceJet's Boeing 737 fleet following a similar move from United State's Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) to conduct checks for structural cracks on a portion of the Boeing 737 fleet operating in the country, a senior DGCA official told Mint.
The Indian civil aviation regulator will carry out inspections for structural cracks on about 23 Boeing 737 planes, including both passenger and freight planes, operated by the airline, the official said requesting anonymity.
"If the planes are found to be in order, aircraft will be released. Else, these planes will be grounded till they are repaired," the official added.
Reuters had on 27 September reported that the FAA would require operators of some Boeing 737 NG jetliners to conduct inspections for structural cracks and make repairs as needed following the discovery of cracks on a small number of planes.
The FAA said Boeing notified the agency of the issue after it discovered the cracks while conducting modifications on a heavily used aircraft, the Reuters report added.
Interestingly, the checks will be conducted only on heavily-used Boeing 737 planes and not the newly inducted aircraft.
Only those aircraft, which have done over 26,000 flight cycles (FC), will be inspected, the DGCA official mentioned above said.
At present, Indian airlines like SpiceJet, Vistara, and Air India Express operates Boeing 737 planes. SpiceJet and Vistara also operate a part of Boeing 737 fleet that was earlier operated by Jet Airways. The Naresh-Goyal led airline has been grounded since April due to an acute lack of funds.
Flight Cycle (FC) is a term used to describe the operation of an aircraft engine from the time it takes off until it touches the ground at the end of a flight.
"Boeing noticed the crack on Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737-900 planes that had done over 36,000 FC. The regulators have decided to inspect only those aircraft that have conducted over 26,000 FC. However, at the moment, none of Vistara planes have reached that mark, so inspections will not be carried out on the airline's planes," said an official of the airline, who requested anonymity.
An Air India Express official said that the Air India Express' fleet of Boeing 737 fleet haven't crossed the 26,000 FC mark yet.