The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday decided to ground the controversial Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft with immediate effect. The move comes after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed on Sunday killing 157 people on board.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) said the planes will be grounded until appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken 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,” a statement by MoCA said.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has directed the Civil Aviation Secretary to hold an emergency meeting with all airlines to prepare contingency plans.
“Directed Secretary to hold an emergency meeting with all Airlines to prepare a contingency plan to avoid inconvenience to passengers. While passenger safety is a zero tolerance issue, efforts are already on to minimise the impact on passenger movement as their convenience is important,” Prabhu said in a tweet.
Earlier on Tuesday, Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said the DGCA is in touch with Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and is monitoring the “Boeing situation very closely”.
On Sunday, all 157 people on board lost their lives when the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed a few minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport.
The black box has since been recovered as investigators scurry to establish any links between the latest crash and last year’s Lion Air crash, which involved a Boeing jet of the same make.
Aviation authorities in Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, and Oman have also temporarily suspended Boeing 737 MAX services.
As many as 189 people were killed in October last year, when a Lion Air jet – a Boeing737 MAX 8 – crashed in the Java Sea, close to Jakarta, Indonesia.
Most of the countries and carriers where the said jets are being used have taken precautions following the tragic crashes. Earlier, SpiceJet issued a statement stating that it will continue to fly Boeing 737 MAX, which it called “a highly sophisticated aircraft”.
“It has flown hundreds of thousands of hours globally and some of the world’s largest airlines are flying this aircraft,” the organisation said.