90 SpiceJet Pilots Banned From Flying Boeing 737 Max Airplanes: Find Out Why?
Aviation regulator DGCA has banned 90 SpiceJet pilots from operating the Boeing 737 Max aircraft due to lapses in training.
Scrutiny On Boeing 737
It found anomalies at a simulator training centre in Noida where the affected pilots underwent training.
It is on high alert especially on Boeing 737 aircraft operated by Indian airlines after the recent China Eastern Airlines crash which killed 132 people.
It was a Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
The Lapses Found
People familiar with the matter say that the regulators found glitches with the flight controls and a stick shaker.
The stick shaker is part of the “manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system” (MCAS), a controversial flight stabilisation programme developed by Boeing for MAX.
MCAS was eventually found responsible for the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines B737 MAX crashes which claimed the lives of a combined 346 people.
Retraining A Must
Boeing owns the simulator, which was provided to SpiceJet Ltd. and new carrier Akasa Air for pilot training.
DGCA chief Arun Kumar said that they have been barred temporarily and will have to retrain successfully to fly the aircraft.
The regulator will take strict action against those found responsible for the lapses in training.
The pilots will have to retrain themselves on the Boeing 737 Max simulator.
However, they will continue to remain available for other Boeing 737 aircraft.
MAX Planes Behind Deadly Crashes
The Max planes were grounded in India by the DGCA on March 13, 2019, just three days before the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max had crashed near Addis Ababa, which killed 157 people, including four Indians.
Another major disaster which factored into the decision was the 2018 Lion Air crash.
Both the crashes had a total casualty count of 346 souls.
The blame was placed on a faulty flight handling system which was meant to keep the plane from stalling as it ascended.
The automated system was found to have pushed the nose of the plane downwards.
Ban Lifted After 27 Months
US Aviation authorities directed Boeing to revamp the planes and implement new training protocols for the pilots
The ban was lifted last August after the DGCA was satisfied with manufacturer Boeing’s necessary software rectifications in the aircraft.
One of the DGCA’s conditions for revoking the ban on the Max planes after a span of 27 months was proper pilot training on the simulator.
No Impact On Daily Ops
SpiceJet has 650 pilots trained on the Boeing 737 Max.
The airline also clarified that the restriction will not impact the operations of the Max aircraft, which it operates 11 of, requiring 144 pilots to operate them.
The airline presently has 60 daily flight operations by MAX aircraft.
Only 2 Indian Airlines With MAX Planes
It said that of the 650 trained pilots on the Max, 560 continue to remain available, which is much more than the current requirement.
SpiceJet is the only Indian airline that has the Max aircraft in its fleet.
Akasa Air, the new airline backed by ace investor Jhunjhunwala and aviation veterans Aditya Ghosh and Vinay Dube had placed an order of 72 Max planes.