After China, India joined a list of countries that banned flying of the controversial Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in its airspace.
The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), a civil aviation watchdog, made the decision late last night after an Ehiopian Airlines plane Boeing 737 MAX 8 had crashed on Sunday killing 157 people on board.
The India Ministry of Civil Aviation said the planes will be grounded “immediately” until appropriate modifications and safety measures are taken to ensure their safe operations.
“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 statement said.
In a tweeter message, the ministry said, “No B737 MAX aircraft will be allowed to enter or transit Indian airspace effective 1600hrs IST or 1030 UTC. The time line is to cater to situations where aircraft can be positioned at maintenance facilities & international flights can reach their destinations (sic)”.
After the government’s decision, Indian Spice Jet cancelled 14 flights for today saying it will be operating additional flights from tomorrow.
Among Indian carriers, Spice Jet has 13 jets of the model 8 variant in its 76-strong fleet while Jet Airways has five. Both airlines have suspended the operation of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets after the DGCA’s decision.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has directed the Civil Aviation Secretary to hold an emergency meeting with all airlines to prepare contingency plans.