Aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), on Tuesday issued an order allowing foreign-registered Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, banned in India since 2019, to fly over India after taking its permission.
DGCA to Allow Special Flights
“Moreover, foreign lessors are allowed to fly their grounded 737 MAX aircraft out of India after taking the regulator’s permission,” the DGCA said in its order, adding that it would issue “special flight permits” to fly 737 MAX plane “to a base for storage, repairs, alterations or maintenance”.
In 2019, the central government grounded all Boeing 737 MAX planes in the country following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX plane on March 10 near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, wherein 157 people were killed, including four Indians.
The crash was the second such incident in five months. In October 2018, a 737 MAX plane operated by Lion Air crashed in Indonesia killing 180 people.
On the 737 MAX plane, the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency expressed concerns about the requirements of pilot training as well as on malfunction of the ‘angle of attack’ system which triggered an anti-stall system linked to the aforementioned two crashes.
“This order applies to all persons operating the Boeing Company Model 737-8 and Boeing Company Model 737-9 airplanes in the territory of Republic of India, and to Indian/ foreign operators permitted by India to conduct flights with Boeing Company Model 737-8 and Boeing Company Model 737-9 airplanes,” the DGCA said.
Not Applicable to Foreign Planes: DGCA
The regulator said the ban imposed on March 13, 2019, would not apply to foreign-registered 737 MAX plane that wants to overfly ‘the Indian airspace’. However, such an aircraft must have permissions from the “regulatory authority of the state of registry” as well as the DGCA.
The Hindustan Times in a report said that on March 13, 2019, budget carrier SpiceJet had to ground 12 MAX planes, forcing it to cancel a significant number of flights on that day as well as on the next day. Jet Airways also had five MAX planes in its fleet but they were already grounded as due to non-payment of dues to lessors. A month later, the full-service carrier had shut down its operations due to a lack of funds.
In March 2019, the 737 Max plane was banned by the regulators of several countries, including India. “This Order supersedes the Order No. DGCA-15018(21)/9/2018-DAS dated 13th March 2019, regarding operation of Boeing 737 Max aircraft,” the DGCA order said.