New Delhi: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) late on Tuesday night grounded all Boeing 737 Max planes in India, in line with similar pre-emptive moves across the world following Sunday's Ethiopia plane crash.
The aviation regualtor has decided to ground the Boeing planes until appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations.
SpiceJet Ltd and Jet Airways (India) Ltd operate Boeing 737 Max planes in India.
"SpiceJet has suspended Boeing 737 Max operations following DGCA's decision to ground the aircraft," said a SpiceJet spokesperson. "Safety and security of our passengers, crew and operations are of utmost importance to us... We will be working with the regulator and the manufacturer to attain normalcy in our operations."
“As always, passenger safety remains our top priority. We continue to consult closely with regulators around the world, airlines and aircraft manufacturers to ensure passenger safety," the civil aviation ministry tweeted.
The government had earlier in the day said it was reviewing the situation surrounding the Boeing 737s closely and that it would take appropriate decision in light of feedback from the agency investigating the Ethiopian Airlines crash, US Federal Aviation Administration and the aircraft manufacturer.
During the course of the day, several countries—from those in the European Union to Australia—banned the Boeing 737 Max planes as a pre-emtive measure. Europe’s air safety watchdog, EU Aviation Safety Agency, issued a continent-wide grounding of the aircraft after similar decision by countries like Singapore, China, Australia and Malaysia. Several airlines too decided to ground the aircraft.
Two of India’s biggest airlines, Spicejet Ltd and Jet Airways (India) Ltd, have so far taken delivery of 18 B737 Max 8 planes. Five of those planes, forming part of Jet Airways’ fleet, have been grounded by lessors for non-payment of dues.
The two carriers are awaiting delivery of a total of 362 Boeing 737 Max jetliners, which are slated to be delivered over the next decade, according to airline executives.
The Ethiopia plane crash has raised concerns about whether the Boeing 737 Max 8 planesare prone to faults, especially during take-off. The crash of the Ethiopian Airlines’ aircraft, as well as that of the Lion Air jet, took place during their take-off phases.
The Ethiopia plane crash was the second involving a Boeing 737 Max plane in five months. The first was that of a Lion Air plane in Indonesia in October.