The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday informed that all Boeing 737 Max aircraft will be grounded before 4 pm today. This is to cater to situations where aircraft are to fly back to India or go to maintenance facility for parking.
Boeing 737 Max operations will stop from/to all Indian airports. Additionally no Boeing 737 Max aircraft will be allowed to enter or transit the Indian airspace effective 1600 hrs Indian time or 1030 UTC, the DGCA ordered.
The timeline is to cater to situations where aircraft can be positioned at maintenance facilities and international flights can reach their destinations.
Earlier on Tuesday, India grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft used by the country’s airline companies in light of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people.
SpiceJet has around 12 ‘737 Max 8’ planes in its fleet, while Jet Airways has five.
“DGCA has taken the decision to ground the Boeing 737-Max planes immediately. These planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a tweet.
“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,” it added.
Following the DGCA decision, SpiceJet suspended Boeing 737 Max operations. “Safety and security of our passengers, crew and operations are of utmost importance to us,” the airline informed.
The move comes three days after 157 people were killed after an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed 6 minutes after take-off from Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Secretary has called an emergency meeting of all airlines at 4 pm today in Delhi.
Earlier, the DGCA had issued additional safety instructions to the 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, the regulator ordered.
A total of 149 passengers and 8 crew members from 35 countries were on board the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302 when it ploughed into a field in Bishoftu (formerly Debre Zeit), a town located 48 kilometres south east of Addis Ababa.
Four Indians, including a UNDP consultant attached to India’s Environment Ministry, lost their lives in the crash.
This was second such crash involving the 737 Max 8 aircraft in less than five months.
In October last year, an aircraft operated by Lion Air crashed killing over 180 people in Indonesia.
Following Sunday’s accident, Ethiopian Airlines grounded its entire Boeing 737 Max 8 fleet until further notice.
European Union and many countries across the world have already banned the use of 737 Max 8 aircraft in their respective airspace.
On Monday, China, too, grounded all of its Boeing 737 Max 8 jets. Australia too followed the suit on Tuesday.