DGCA bars 90 SpiceJet pilots from flying 737 Max planes

The measure of the aviation supervisor comes after they have found that they have not been properly trained.

The measure of the aviation supervisor comes after they have found that they have not been properly trained.

Indian aviation regulator DGCA has banned 90 SpiceJet pilots from flying the Boeing 737 Max aircraft after finding they were not properly trained.

“For the time being, we have banned these pilots from flying the Max and must successfully retrain them to fly the aircraft,” DGCA chief Arun Kumar said in a statement.

He also said the regulator will “take strict action against those responsible for the counterfeiting”. The pilots will have to be trained again, in a decent way, on the Max simulator, said Mr Kumar.

The Boeing 737 Max aircraft were grounded in India by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on March 13, 2019, three days after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max aircraft near Addis Ababa, killing 157 people died, including four Indians.

The ban on the planes was lifted in August last year after the DGCA was satisfied with US-based aircraft manufacturer Boeing’s necessary software fixes on the plane.

Proper training of pilots on the simulator was also one of the requirements of the DGCA to lift the ban on the Max aircraft after 27 months.

A SpiceJet spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday that the DGCA has banned 90 airline pilots from flying the Max aircraft.

“At SpiceJet, 650 pilots have been trained on the Boeing 737 Max. The DGCA has made an observation on the training profile followed for 90 pilots and therefore SpiceJet, on the advice of the DGCA, has restricted 90 pilots from flying the Max aircraft until these pilots are retrained to the satisfaction of the DGCA. These pilots will remain available for other Boeing 737 aircraft,” the spokesperson said.

This limitation does not affect the operations of the Max aircraft in any way. SpiceJet currently operates 11 Max aircraft and it takes about 144 pilots to operate these aircraft, the spokesman said.

“Of the 650 trained pilots on the Max, 560 will remain available, which is much more than the current need,” said the spokesperson.

SpiceJet is the only Indian airline to have the Max aircraft in its fleet.

Akasa Air, the new airline backed by top investor Jhunjhunwala and aviation veterans Aditya Ghosh and Vinay Dube, had signed a deal with Boeing last November to purchase 72 Max aircraft. Akasa Air does not have any of these aircraft yet.


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