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Aviation regulator DGCA to conduct its own due diligence on Boeing 737 Max aircraft

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will conduct its own due diligence before allowing the grounded Boeing 737 Max planes to fly on Indian skies even if the US aviation regulator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), re-certifies the aircraft in near future, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Mint.

India’s civil aviation regulator is also likely to make it mandatory for pilots operating the aircraft to undergo simulator training before allowing them to fly the aircraft, the person added, requesting anonymity.

The Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, considered a more fuel-efficient plane than its predecessors, was grounded by the DGCA on 13 March after aviation regulators worldwide did the same following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX near Addis Ababa on 10 March, killing 157 people, including four Indians.

This followed a Boeing 737 MAX of Lion Air crash last October that killed 180 people in Indonesia.

“Nobody is sure about when the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will take to the air again. It will have to be firstly re-certified by FAA, following which DGCA will also independently conduct due diligence before allowing the aircraft to fly on Indian skies,” said the person mentioned above.

Boeing Co has since the grounding of the 737 MAX fleet conducted more than 800 hours of test flight of the plane.

The American aircraft manufacturer is expected to approach FAA for re-certification of the planes by October.

“The earliest time frame for the re-induction of Boeing 737 Max fleet is likely to be early next year. However, we can’t be too sure about it,” said the person mentioned above adding that DGCA’s due diligence process following FAA’s re-certification of the aircraft will be a thorough process.

“DGCA will not allow the aircraft (Boeing 737 Max) to fly unless the agency is assured that it is absolutely safe to fly these planes,” the person added.

The suffering of Indian carriers because of the grounding of the planes has been limited as local airlines operated only a dozen such planes compared with about 400 used by airlines worldwide.

SpiceJet Ltd, one of the world’s biggest customers for the 737 MAX 8, has orders for 155 Boeing aircraft with purchase rights for 50 additional 737 MAX 8 and wide-body planes. The airline has taken delivery of 12 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes so far, which are at present grounded.

Jet Airways (India) Ltd, had taken delivery of five Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. However, the airline has been grounded since April because of a fund crunch. Those planes have since been taken back by the leasing companies.

Source: Livemint