SpiceJet defends 737s despite global ban on its operations

New Delhi/Mumbai, March 12
Even as global civil aviation authorities banned their respective airlines from operating the Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft, budget carrier SpiceJet on Tuesday said it was actively engaged with both Boeing and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as it continued to operate that aircraft.

In a statement, the airline said: "The Boeing 737 MAX is a highly sophisticated aircraft. It has flown hundreds of thousands of hours globally and some of the world's largest airlines are flying this.

"We are actively engaged with both Boeing and the DGCA and will continue to put safety first, as always. We have implemented all additional precautionary measures as directed by the DGCA on Monday."

Globally, many countries have banned the operations of the aircraft after an Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft crashed on Sunday killing all 157 people on board.

On its part, Boeing said: "Safety is Boeing's top priority and we have full confidence in the safety of the MAX. We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets. We'll continue to engage with them to ensure that they have the information they need to have confidence in operating their fleets or returning them to service.

"It is also important to note the Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to the operators."

On Tuesday, the UK joined Singapore, Australia and a number of other countries in banning Boeing 737 Max planes from operating in or over its airspace.

In India, SpiceJet and Jet Airways operate 17 Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft. While SpiceJet has 12, Jet has 5 planes of this type.

On Monday, India's civil aviation regulator issued fresh safety directives for operating this make of aircraft.

"The issue has been reviewed by the DGCA today along with the Indian operators covering all reported snags or defects of significant nature along with rectification action(s) taken on these aircraft," the regulator said in a statement on Monday.

"Compliance of an earlier advisory issued by the DGCA after the Lion Air accident on December 3, 2018 was also reviewed. During the review, it was observed that the 'Daily Defect' and 'Daily Incident' reports contained defects of routine nature and no significant concerns were observed," it said.

Accordingly, the directive deals with the technical and operational aspects.

As per the directive, the minimum experience of the crew operating the B737 Max aircraft as pilot should be 1,000 hours and co-pilot 500 hours.

"The DGCA will continue to monitor the situation and may impose or take any other operational, maintenance measures, restrictions based on the information received from accident investigation agency, FAA and Boeing," the statement said.

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