The DGCA bans 90 SpiceJet pilots from flying 737 Max aircraft


The aviation authority’s move comes after it was determined they were not properly trained.

The aviation authority’s move comes after it was determined they were not properly trained.

India’s aviation authority DGCA has banned 90 SpiceJet pilots from operating the Boeing 737 Max after finding they were not properly trained.

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

He also said that the regulator would “take strict action against those blamed for the error”. Pilots will need to be trained again in an appropriate manner on the Max simulator, Mr Kumar said.

The Boeing 737 Max planes were grounded in India by the Directorate-General for Civil Aviation (DGCA) on March 13, 2019, three days after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max plane crashed near Addis Ababa, during the 157th people died, including four Indians.

The ban on the planes was lifted in August last year after the DGCA was satisfied with the necessary software fixes from US plane manufacturer Boeing on the planes.

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

A SpiceJet spokesman confirmed Wednesday that the DGCA has banned 90 of the airline’s pilots from flying the Max planes.

“SpiceJet has 650 pilots trained on the Boeing 737 Max. The DGCA had an observation of the training profile of 90 pilots and therefore, in accordance with the DGCA’s recommendations, SpiceJet has banned 90 pilots from operating the Max aircraft until those pilots complete retraining to the satisfaction of the DGCA. These pilots will remain available for other Boeing 737 aircraft,” the spokesman said.

This limitation does not affect the operation of the Max aircraft in any way. SpiceJet currently operates 11 Max aircraft and approximately 144 pilots are required to operate those aircraft, the spokesman said.

“Of the 650 trained pilots on the Max, 560 remain available, which is far more than current needs,” the spokesman said.

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, signed a deal with Boeing to buy 72 Max aircraft in November last year. Akasa Air does not yet have any of these aircraft.

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