Cash-strapped Jet Airways on Monday said it is not operating any of the five Boeing 737 MAX in its fleet. The statement of the airline, which has grounded a significant number of planes, comes amid aviation regulator DGCA being asked to undertake a safety assessment of 737 MAX aircraft following the crash of such a plane in Ethiopia on Sunday. Jet Airways and SpiceJet are the only two domestic carriers that have 737 MAX planes in their fleet.
In a statement, Jet Airways said it has five Boeing 737 MAX planes in its fleet "but is currently not flying any of these aircraft". "The airline is in contact with the manufacturer and the regulator in context of this development, and remains committed to implementing all directives or advisories that may be published by those authorised," the airline said in the context of the crash in Ethiopia that killed 157 people.
However, the SpiceJet is yet to response to the DGCA’s safety instructions for flying Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes.
SpiceJet and Jet Airways have been asked to ensure various requirements are complied with by engineering and maintenance personnel with respect to 737 MAX 8 planes. These include conditions that Minimum Equipment List (MEL) would not be released for operating an aircraft in case dual auto pilot mode and certain other parts are inoperative.
Any error which comes across would have to be rectified before releasing the aircraft for line maintenance as well as ensuring that angle of attack' (AOA) is in null position. Generally, AOA is crucial in determining the angle at which an aircraft flies relative to the direction of air.
"The DGCA will continue to closely monitor the situation and may impose/ take any other operational/ maintenance measures/ restrictions based on the information received from accident investigation agency/ FAA (Federal Aviation Administration/ Boeing," the statement said. The operators have to ensure that no MAX aircraft in their fleet is operated without compliance with DGCA's latest directions with effect from 1200 hours on March 12, it added.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has asked aviation watchdog DGCA to undertake safety assessment of Boeing 737 MAX planes operated by domestic airlines. "Safety of the passengers is our utmost concern. Directed Secretary and DGCA to take appropriate action immediately," Prabhu said in a tweet.
Jet Airways has placed orders for 225 737 MAX planes with Boeing and some have already been delivered. SpiceJet, which has embarked on ambitious expansion plans, has a deal with Boeing for up to 205 aircraft, including at least 155 737 MAX 8 planes. The 737 MAX is the fastest selling airplane in Boeing's history. Currently, SpiceJet has 13 737 MAX 8 planes, as per data available with planespotters.net website.
On Sunday, 157 people, including four Indians, were killed when a Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines' 737 MAX aircraft crashed after taking off from Addis Ababa. This was the second time in less than five months that a Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane crashed. In October 2018, an aircraft operated by Lion Air crashed killing over 180 people in Indonesia.
In the wake of the Ethiopia accident, various jurisdictions and airlines have initiated actions, including grounding of the 737 MAX aircraft. The Civil Aviation Administration of China has asked its local carriers to stop commercial flights with 737 MAX 8 planes and Ethiopian Airlines has grounded its fleet of such aircraft.
After the crash in Ethiopia, Boeing, on Sunday, said it was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane. "The 737 MAX is the fastest selling airplane in Boeing history, accumulating nearly 4,700 orders from more than 100 customers, worldwide," according to Boeing website.