India bans B737s, US won't ground them

Last Updated: Wed, Mar 13, 2019 15:59 hrs
Boeing Co's logo is seen above the front doors of its largest jetliner factory in Everett

New Delhi/Mumbai: India announced that all Boeing 737 aircraft will stop operating in the country from 4 p.m. on Wednesday but the US aviation regulator questioned the global grounding of the fleet after an Ethiopian Airlines crash.

"No B737 Max aircraft will be allowed to enter or transit the Indian airspace effective 1600 hours," the Ministry of Civil Aviation tweeted.

This came as a clarification and in continuation to its late Tuesday decision when the Ministry had tweeted: "DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) has taken the decision to ground the Boeing 737-MAX planes immediately."

The Ministry added on Wednesday: "B737Max operations will stop from or to all Indian airports. Additionally, no B737 Max aircraft will be allowed to enter or transit the Indian airspace effective 1600 hours Indian time or 1030 UTC."

The directive came close on the heels of a global grounding of the Boeing fleet following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 737-800 MAX flight on Sunday killing all 157 people on board.

India joined the UK, Singapore, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Italy, Australia and the EU nations in the grounding.

On Tuesday, the US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that no systematic performance issues have been found with the Boeing 737-Max aircraft to justify the global grounding.

"The FAA continues to review extensively all available data and aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 737 Max. Thus far, our review shows no systematic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft," the regulator said.

"Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action. In the course of our urgent review of data on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, if any issues affecting the continued airworthiness of the aircraft are identified, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action."

In India, SpiceJet and Jet Airways operate 17 Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft -- Spice (12) and Jet (5).

On its part, SpiceJet said: "Consequent to the regulatory directive on the Boeing 737 MAX, SpiceJet has already initiated grounding of its MAX fleet.

"In order to cause least inconvenience to its passengers and also bring these aircraft to its maintenance base, we expect to complete this exercise on or before 4 p.m. today."

SpiceJet has announced cancellation of 14 flights.

"Of the 76 planes in our fleet, 64 aircraft are in operation and we are confident of minimizing the inconvenience to our passengers and attain normalcy in our operations," the airline said.