India’s civil aviation regulator has barred 90 pilots belonging to budget carrier SpiceJet from operating Boeing 737 Max aircraft. Accordingly, these pilots would need to undergo retraining on 737 Max simulators.
In a statement, DGCA Director-General Arun Kumar said, “For the moment, we have barred these pilots from flying Max and they have to retrain successfully for flying Max. Also, we will take strict action against those found responsible for the lapse.”
At present, the airline has 650 pilots trained to operate 737 Max aircraft. The move is not expected to affect the airline’s operations as the 90 pilots in question can operate other types of Boeing 737 aircraft.
Notably, the airline is the only one in India to have 737 Max aircraft in operation.
“SpiceJet has 650 pilots trained on Boeing 737 Max. DGCA had an observation on the training profile followed for 90 Pilots, and therefore as per the advise of DGCA, SpiceJet has restricted 90 pilots from operating Max aircraft, until these pilots undergo re-training to the satisfaction of DGCA,” a SpiceJet spokesperson said.
“This restriction does not impact the operations of Max aircraft whatsoever. SpiceJet currently operates 11 Max aircraft and about 144 pilots are required to operate these 11 aircraft. Of the 650 trained pilots on the MAX, 560 continue to remain available, which is much more than the current requirement.”
The budget airline had recommenced flight services on Boeing 737 Max aircraft last year, after a gap of around two-and-a-half years. It has been re-certified by the aviation regulator DGCA.
The aircraft is expected to play a key role in the airline’s strategy to expand its international and domestic operations.
The 737 Max can fly non-stop to Singapore, Doha, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Kuala Lumpur, Tehran, Salalah, Kunming (China), Krabi, Moscow, and Istanbul among other international destinations from various international airports in India.
Additionally, with one-stop, the aircraft can easily fly up to Finland, Norway, Morocco, London, and Amsterdam. The Max 8 can fly up to 3,500 nautical miles which is approximately 19 percent more than 737-800 enabling the airline to fly to newer destinations.
In addition, it uses up to 20 percent less fuel than older 737s.