Wednesday, March 13, 2019

India grounds Boeing 737 MAX

New Delhi/Mumbai: Late on Tuesday, India joined the list of countries that have grounded the Boeing 737 MAX.
“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. 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 aviation ministry tweeted.
SpiceJet will have to immediately ground the 12-13 B737 MAX planes in its fleet. Five MAX planes of Jet Airways have been grounded for some time now, due to non-payment of lease rentals.
“We will see if overflying by the Boeing 737 MAX also needs to be stopped after studying whether airlines of nearby regions use this plane to overfly India on their international routes. We need to study that before taking a call on overflying by MAX,” said highly paced sources.
A large number of countries and standalone airlines have grounded the B737 MAX, with places like Singapore and Australia banning overflying over their airspace. 

‘No B737 MAX simulator in India for pilots to train on’ 

SilkAir, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines (SIA), used to operate its Max to Hyderabad and Bangalore. “SilkAir will be flying the Boeing 737 NG (new generation) to Hyderabad and Bangalore instead of the Boeing 737 MAX,” said an SIA spokesperson. Singapore’s aviation authority has suspended “all variants of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft into and out of Singapore.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority temporarily suspended airlines from flying B737 MAX jets to or from Australia. China and Indonesia had done so soon after Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian B737 MAX that killed all 157 on board. Aerolíneas Argentinas is grounding its five Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes and so are Ethiopian Airlines, Aeromexico, Cayman Airways and South Africa’s Comair and South Korea’s Eastar Jet.

The DGCA had on Monday night issued instructions, asking captains and co-pilots with over 1,000 and 500 hours, of flying experience on this aircraft respectively, to operate this aircraft. This instruction was severely criticised by experts as they pointed out pilots operating both the ill-fated Lion Air and Ethiopian B737 MAX had huge flying experience. 

“It is about a snag in the aircraft, its operating system. It is not something that can be taken care of by simply asking for experienced pilots to fly the plane. That decision of DGCA made no sense,” said a senior pilot of the B737 MAX who said a new operating system almost gives the MAX “a mind of its own after which the pilots can do nothing.”

According to aviation safety experts, “the problem was that these great flying professionals aren’t being trained on B737 MAX simulators and so they won’t be able to take split-second decisions and take control of the plane in time when needed”.
13/03/19 Manju V/Saurabh Sinha/Times of India
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