90 spiceJet pilots bars by DGCA from flying Boeing 737 Max aircraft


The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has barred 90 SpiceJet pilots from flying Boeing 737 Max aircraft until they undergo the required training, citing issues with their simulator training.

“...we have barred these pilots from flying Max and they have to retrain successfully for flying MAX. We will take strict action against those found responsible for the lapse,” said DGCA director Arun Kumar, without specifying what the issues were.

A spokesperson for the airline said DGCA, the civil aviation regulator, “had [an] observation on the training profile” followed by 90 Pilots. “...therefore, as per the advice of DGCA, SpiceJet has restricted 90 pilots from operating MAX aircraft until these pilots undergo retraining to the satisfaction of DGCA.” The spokesperson added these pilots continue to remain available for other Boeing 737 aircraft.

SpiceJet, which has 650 pilots trained for Boeing 737 MAX operations, is the only Indian airline to operate them. It has 11 such aircraft in its fleet. Billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s Akasa Air, which plans to begin operations this summer, has ordered 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

The spokesperson said the restriction will not impact 60 daily flight operations by MAX aircraft. “...144 pilots are required to operate these 11 aircraft. Of the 650 trained pilots on the MAX, 560 continue to remain available, which is much more than the current requirement,” the spokesperson said.

Boeing 737 MAX resumed operations in December 2020 two years after they were grounded after the 2018 Lion Air and 2019 Ethiopian Airlines crashes, which left 346 people dead. A faulty flight handling system meant to keep the plane from stalling as it ascends was blamed for the crashes. The automated system was found to have pushed the nose of the plane downwards.

Aviation authorities in the US later directed Boeing to revamp the planes and implement new training protocols for the pilots. The ban on Boeing 737 MAX was lifted in India in 2021.

(Except for the headline and the pictorial description, this story has not been edited by THE DEN staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)