Joining an ever-growing list of countries, India has decided to ban Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes following the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people. Current Indian airlines that operate these aircraft are SpiceJet that has twelve of these planes in its fleet and Jet Airways that has five. "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," the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a tweet.
"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," it added.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said, "Directed Secy to hold an emergency meeting with all Airlines to prepare a contingency plan to avoid inconvenience to passengers. While passenger safety is a zero tolerance issue, efforts are already on to minimise the impact on passenger movement as their convenience is important (sic)."
On Sunday, a 737 MAX 8 aircraft operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed near Addis Ababa killing 157 people, including four Indians. This was the second such major crash in less than five months involving a 737 MAX 8. An aircraft operated by Lion Air crashed in Indonesia killing over 180 people.
In response to this move, SpiceJet said, "We are actively engaged with both Boeing and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and will continue to put safety first, as always. We have already implemented all additional precautionary measures as directed by the DGCA yesterday." The statement further added, "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 aircraft."
Countries that have banned Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes
Several countries have grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplanes in their airspace. New Zealand's aviation watchdog Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) banned the aircraft on Wednesday. The Netherlands, too, banned the aircraft on Tuesday.
Turkish Airlines banned the 737 MAX 8 and suspended flights that were using the aircraft on Tuesday. "Until the uncertainty surrounding the safety of the 737 MAX is clarified, we are withdrawing these planes from commercial flights from March 13," airline boss Bilal Eksi said on Twitter. Norwegian Air Shuttle, South Korea's Eastar Jet and South Africa's Comair also said they would halt flights.
The European Union banned the airplanes on Tuesday. The EU aviation safety agency said it was closing European airspace to all MAX aircraft currently operating. The UK Civil Aviation Authority said it was banning the planes from UK airspace "as a precautionary measure".
Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and Oman were among countries that banned all MAX planes from their airspace. China, a hugely important market for Boeing, had already ordered domestic airlines to suspend operations of the plane on Monday, as did Indonesia. Argentina's flag carrier also grounded five MAX 8 aircraft on Tuesday, as did airlines in countries including Brazil, Mexico and Ethiopia.
US carriers have so far appeared to maintain confidence in Boeing, which has said it is certain the planes are safe to fly. The US federal aviation authority, the FAA, has not grounded the MAX but ordered the manufacturer to make design changes.
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya; with PTI inputs)