India grounds Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after Ethiopian Airlines crash

'These planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations,' the Ministry of Civil Aviation said

March 12, 2019 11:53 pm | Updated March 13, 2019 12:54 am IST - New Delhi

Representational image

Representational image

In a late night decision, India on Tuesday grounded all Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft “immediately.”

The move came after European aviation regulator EASA, the U.K, France, Germany, Australia and Singapore joined a growing number of countries that have barred the aircraft from their airspace following Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane .

“The DGCA has taken the decision to ground the Boeing 737-MAX 8 planes immediately. These planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations,” Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu announced on Twitter.

SpiceJet is the only Indian airline that operates 12 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. While Jet Airways has five of these planes, they are grounded because of the airline’s financial issues.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said it was suspending all flight operations of the two variants by airlines “entering into, flying within and out of the EU.”

Germany, France, Austria, Netherlands, Ireland and Malaysia, too, barred the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft from their airspace.

Aerospace manufacturer Boeing, meanwhile, reiterated its "full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX.”

The manufacturer said it "did not have any basis to issue a fresh guidance to operators”.

According to reports, the Malaysian government is considering a review its order of 25 Boeing 737 MAX 8 for its flagship Malaysia Airlines.

Three Latin American airlines - Aero Mexico, Aerolineas, GOL - as well as Icelandair, Oman Air, Turkish Airlines, Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc, South Korean Airline Eastar Jet, announced that they were suspending operations of the Boeing 737 MAX 8s.

An Indian pilot who flies the Boeing 737 MAX 8, spoke to The Hindu on the condition of anonymity, to say: “I am fatalistic. Pilots don’t have a choice and need to fly the plane to keep their job, but I feel sorry for passengers, who may be unaware of the safety concerns.” He added that airlines continuing to fly the aircraft were “turning a blind eye” to safety.

Earlier in the day, SpiceJet had played down safety concerns with aircraft. “The Boeing 737 MAX 8 is a highly sophisticated aircraft. It has flown hundreds of thousands of hours globally and some of the world’s largest airlines are flying this aircraft,” it said in its statement.

United State’s regulatory body Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) informed international aviation authorities that it doesn’t have data to “draw any conclusions or take any actions”, according to media reports.

“Boeing must act quickly to identify whether there is indeed a technical issue and if there is, fix it swiftly to avoid a potential rash of cancelled orders that will play into the hands of its closest competitors,” analytics firm GlobalData urged in a statement.

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