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India Stops SpiceJet Pilots from Flying 737 MAX Aircraft

SpiceJet, which operates 11 MAX aircraft and has 144 certified pilots, said the pilots have been restricted from flying the jets until they undergo retraining

Boeing eyes great potential for selling planes in India in the coming year.
Indian skies are dominated by low-cost carriers such as IndiGo, SpiceJet (seen here), GoFirst and AirAsia India, the majority of which operate narrow-body Airbus planes. Boeing dominates India's wide-body market and sees potential for more business in the year ahead as the tourist market begins to re-emerge. File photo: AFP.


Indian budget carrier SpiceJet said on Wednesday the country’s aviation regulator has asked 90 of its pilots to refrain from flying Boeing 737 MAX planes until they have been retrained.

SpiceJet, which currently operates 11 MAX aircraft and has 144 pilots to fly them, said the pilots have been restricted from operating the jets until they undergo retraining to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) satisfaction.

Indian media reported that the restrictions were imposed after flaws were discovered at a simulator facility near Delhi where they had received training for the Boeing jet.

The pilots continue to remain available for other Boeing 737 aircraft and the restriction does not impact MAX operations, a SpiceJet spokesperson said.

The airline is Boeing’s biggest customer in the South Asian nation for MAX planes.

“We are working closely with all parties involved, including our supplier, and the DGCA to ensure the maintenance and operation of this specific device complies with all regulatory requirements,” Boeing said in a statement.

“We are committed to ensuring our customers receive high quality simulation experiences in accordance with all regulations,” it added.

The pilots need to retrain successfully and we will take strict action against those found responsible for the lapse, Arun Kumar, the directorate general at India’s air safety watchdog DGCA, said.

In August, the regulator cleared the 737 MAX aircraft to fly after a near two-and-a-half-year regulatory grounding following two fatal crashes in 2019.

As part of the conditions for returning the plane to service, Boeing and regulators agreed to beef up training for pilots to include simulator training.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell




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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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