New Delhi: The Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft will be banned in Indian airspace from 4 pm today, the government has said. The aircraft will also be grounded in the country by 4 pm, an official of aviation watchdog DGCA said, according to news agency PTI. Last night, the regulator had announced that the planes would be grounded “immediately” for the sake of passenger safety, three days after an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed, killing 157 people including four Indians. Since the crash on Sunday, several countries have grounded the Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes, the latest and best-selling variant of the US-based plane-maker.
Here is your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:
- The Ministry of Civil Aviation tweeted, “No B737 Max aircraft will be allowed to enter or transit Indian airspace effective 1600hrs IST or 1030 UTC. The time line is to cater to situations where aircraft can be positioned at maintenance facilities & international flights can reach their destinations (sic)”.
- The ministry has called an emergency meeting of all airlines at 4 pm today “to prepare a contingency plan”, according to news agency PTI.
- Among Indian carriers, SpiceJet has 13 jets of the model 8 variant in its 76-strong fleet while Jet Airways has five. Both airlines have suspended the operation of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets after the DGCA or Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s decision.
- SpiceJet, in a statement, announced “cancellation of 14 flights for today”, saying it will be “operating additional flights from tomorrow”. “Of the 76 planes in our fleet, 64 aircraft are in operations and we are confident of minimizing the inconvenience to our passengers and attain normalcy in our operations,” it added. The airline had earlier defended the jets, calling them “highly sophisticated”.
- The planes in India will stay grounded until modifications and safety measures are taken, the Civil Aviation Ministry had announced last evening.
- On Monday, the DGCA had directed Indian carriers to ensure that pilots have 1,000 hours and co-pilots 500 hours of flying experience on the Boeing 737 MAX 8.
- The US aviation regulator said on Tuesday it would not ground the MAX 8 planes. It said a review by the body “shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft.”
- Boeing, the world’s biggest planemaker, which has seen billions of dollars wiped off its market value since the crash, said it understood the countries’ actions but retained “full confidence” in the 737 MAX and had safety as its priority.
- Of the top 10 countries by air passenger travel, all but the United States and Japan have halted flights of the 737 MAX.
(With inputs from Agencies)