India’s aviation industry may face fresh turbulence as safety concerns grow over Boeing’s 737 Max 8 aircraft. Chinese authorities have grounded these aircraft after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed on Sunday, killing 157 people. Coming as the second crash involving this kind of aircraft in less than five months, questions over its safety are bound to be raised. SpiceJet has 13 Boeing 737 Max 8 planes and Jet Airways has five, and the two have together ordered hundreds more of them.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has sought information from Boeing and the airlines on the air-worthiness of these planes as it contemplates preventive action.

While safety is paramount, the regulator needs to be mindful of the damage any blanket ban could do. High fuel prices and pressure to keep fares low have already hurt the profitability of airlines. Fares have meanwhile shot up almost 50% in recent weeks due to a mix of problems, including the repossession of aircraft by lessors of Jet Airways and runway work at Mumbai airport.

In a market suffering from capacity constraints, any knee-jerk regulatory action could push carriers deeper into trouble.

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