India's new safety norms for flying B737 MAX planes to allow only experienced pilots

Rescuers work beside the wreckage of an Ethiopian Airlines' aircraft at the crash site, some 50 km east of Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019. All 157 people aboard Ethiopian Airlines flight were confirmed dead as Africa's fastest growing airline witnessed the worst-ever incident in its history.IANS

A day after an Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 737-800 MAX flight crashed killing all 157 people on board, India's civil aviation regulator on Monday issued fresh safety directives for operations of this make of aircraft in the country.

"The issue has been reviewed in DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) today (Monday) along with the Indian operators covering all reported snags or defects of significant nature along with rectification action(s) taken on these aircraft," the regulator said in a statement.

"Compliance of an earlier advisory issued by DGCA post Lion Air accident on December 3, 2018 was also reviewed. During the review, it was observed that the 'Daily Defect' and ‘Daily Incident' reports contained defects of routine nature and no significant concerns were observed."

In India, SpiceJet and Jet Airways operate 17 Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft. They have also placed orders for 355 737-MAX aircraft. Of this, SpiceJet has 205 737-MAX aircraft on order and Jet Airways 150 planes of the same type.

Accordingly, the directive deals with the technical aspect and operational.

As per the directive, minimum experience level of crew operating B737 Max aircraft to fly as pilot should be 1,000 hours and co-pilot 500 hours on Boeing 737 NG aircraft type.

"DGCA will continue to closely monitor the situation and may impose or take any other operational, maintenance measures, restrictions based on the information received from accident investigation agency, FAA, Boeing," the statement said.

Prior to the issuance of new safety guidelines, Union Minister Suresh Prabhu had here directed India's civil aviation regulator to undertake safety assessment of Boeing 737-MAX aircraft, flown by domestic carriers.

"Directed officials of DGCA to undertake safety assessment of Boeing 737-MAX (being flown by domestic carriers)," Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation Minister Prabhu tweeted.

"Safety of the passengers is our utmost concern. Directed Secretary and DGCA to take appropriate action immediately."

The Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed on Sunday, killing all 149 passengers and 8 crew on board. The victims were of 35 nationalities, including four Indians.

Following the tragedy, Ethiopian Airlines grounded its entire B-737-800 MAX fleet on March 10. "Although we don't yet know the cause of accident, we decided to ground the particular fleet as extra safety precaution," Ethiopian Airlines said in its Twitter handle.

Aviation regulators in China and Indonesia have also grounded the Boeing 737-MAX aircraft fleet.

In a statement about the Ethiopian Airlines crash, Boeing said: "A Boeing technical team will be travelling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and the US National Transportation Safety Board."
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