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India grounds Boeing 737-MAX planes


New Delhi, Mar 12: India became the latest country to ground Boeing 737-MAX planes, days after a similar model of the aircraft crashed in Ethiopia killing all 157 on board. India's aviation regulatory authority, DGCA, today said these planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations.

File photo of Boeing 737-MAX

India joins UK, Singapore, China, Malaysia and Australia, in grounding the jets after all 157 on board such an aircraft with Ethiopian Airlines died in a crash on Sunday. It was the second fatal accident involving the 737 Max 8 model in less than five months - the previous crash involving a Lion Air aircraft in Indonesia in October last year when it crashed into the sea off Indonesia and killed all 189 on board.

"These planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations. We continue to consult closely with regulators around the world, airlines, and aircraft manufacturers to ensure passenger safety," a statement issued by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.

[We have full confidence in the safety of 737 MAX aircrafts: Boeing]

In a tweet on Monday, civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu had said that he directed the DGCA to undertake safety assessment of Boeing 737-MAX planes being flown by domestic carriers.

SpiceJet has around 12 such aircraft in its fleet, while Jet Airways has five, which are currently grounded.

DGCA had on Monday tightened norms governing the operation of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. DGCA on Monday ordered additional maintenance checks for the planes operating in the country.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA has directed Indian carriers to ensure that pilots have 1,000 hours and co-pilots 500 hours of flying experience on the 737 MAX 8. Full service carrier Jet Airways and low-cost carrier SpiceJet own and operate these aircraft in India.

Earlier in the day, Boeing issued a statement saying that safety is the company's number one priority.

"Safety is Boeing's number one priority and we have full confidence in the safety of 737 MAX. We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets," the statement said.

"We will continue to engage with them to ensure they've info needed to have confidence in operating their fleets. US Federal Aviation Administration isn't mandating any further action at the time and based on information available, we don't have any basis to issue new guidance to operators," it added.

France and the United Kingdom also banned 737 MAX aircraft from operating in their airspace today. The French civil aviation authority said on Tuesday it had banned Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from France's airspace after a deadly crash of an Ethiopian plane of the same model.

[UK, Malaysia ban Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes from its airspace after deadly Ethiopia crash]

The UK on Tuesday became yet another country to ban the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft from its airspace in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash involving the model. The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said passenger airlines using the aircraft will not be allowed to operate in or over UK airspace "as a precautionary measure" until further notice.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in a statement earlier today that it was "temporarily suspending operation of all variants of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Singapore in light of two fatal accidents involving Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in less than five months."

The Boeing 737 Max fleet of aircraft are the latest in the company's successful 737 line. The group includes the Max 7, 8, 9 and 10 models. By the end of January, Boeing had delivered 350 of the Max 8 model out of 5,011 orders. A small number of Max 9s are also operating, a BBC report said.

The 737 MAX 8 was launched in 2017. Boeing has delivered more than 370 MAX planes to 47 customers, including leasing firms that place the jets with airlines around the world.

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