New Delhi: All Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in India will be grounded by 4 pm today, an official of aviation watchdog DGCA has said, according to news agency PTI. Last night, the government had announced that the planes would be grounded “immediately” for the sake of passenger safety, three days after an Ethiopian Airline 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.
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Among Indian carriers, SpiceJet has 13 jets of the model 8 variant in its 75-strong fleet while Jet Airways has five.Both the airlines have suspended the operation of their 737 MAX 8 jets after the DGCA or Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s decision.SpiceJet said: “The safety and security of our passengers, crew and operations are of utmost importance to us.”SpiceJet 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.”As always, passenger safety remains our top priority. We continue to consult closely with regulators around the world, airlines, and aircraft manufacturers to ensure passenger safety,” the Civil Aviation Ministry said on Twitter.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 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)