Ethiopian Airlines crash: Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday issued strict safety guidelines for flying the Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes. Among other things, the regulator said that pilots flying these planes must have at least 1,000 hours of flying experience. "The minimum experience level of crew operating B737 Max aircraft to fly as PIC (Pilot-in-Command) is 1,000 hours and co-pilot is 500 hours on Boeing 737 NG aircraft type," the regulator said.
This instruction has come days after an aircraft crash killed 157 people in Ethiopia. This is the second such crash in less than five months. In October 2018, an aircraft operated by Lion Air crashed killing over 180 people in Indonesia. The civil aviation ministry also ordered a "safety assessment" of these aircraft. The regulator is also holding consultation with safety regulators around the world.
In India, SpiceJet and Jet Airways operate these aircrafts. Both airlines have been asked to make sure that the requirements are met by the engineering and maintenance personnel with respect to the 737 MAX 8 planes. Operators have to ensure that no MAX aircraft in their fleet is operated without compliance with the latest directions by the DGCA with effect from 1200 hours on March 12, the statement said. Cash-strapped Jet Airways, however, said on Monday that it is not currently operating any of the five 737 MAX planes in its fleet. On the other hand, SpiceJet has 13 737 MAX 8 planes, as per the data available with planespotters.net website.
"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 regulation says 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.
"Safety of the passengers is our utmost concern. Directed Secretary and DGCA to take appropriate action immediately," said Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu in a tweet.
Following the crash China, Indonesia and Ethiopia have grounded the newest 737 MAX airplanes. Additionally, US federal aviation authorities said that they will order Boeing to modify its 737 MAX 8 aircraft, including anti-stalling software and manoeuvring system updates. "The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) continuously assesses and oversees the safety performance of US commercial aircraft," it said earlier, adding, "If we identify an issue that affects safety, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action."
(With agency inputs)