SpiceJet is the only Boeing 737 MAX
operator in India, with 13 aircraft of the type in its fleet and a total of 205 planes on order. The 737 MAX aircraft have been grounded globally after 346 passengers perished in twin air crashes in 2018 and 2019. In its second quarter result announcement, SpiceJet said it expects the aircraft to return to service in January-March quarter of 2021. However, it did not comment on Wednesday's FAA decision.
The US aviation regulator on Wednesday issued an airworthiness directive specifying design changes that must be made before the aircraft returns to service and has notified training requirements for pilots.
Boeing has already set up a 737 MAX simulator at its training centre in Noida which help the Indian pilots familiarise with the enhanced training norms.
Changes have also been proposed to flight control software to protect against malfunction of Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) of the aircraft. The MCAS system has been blamed for the two crashes.
The US regulator said airlines
that had parked the planes would need to take required maintenance actions to prepare the aircraft to fly again.
"These actions do not allow the MAX to return immediately to the skies," FAA said in its order.
"The design and certification of this aircraft included an unprecedented level of collaborative and independent reviews by aviation authorities around the world. Those regulators have indicated that Boeing’s design changes, together with the changes to crew procedures and training enhancements, will give them the confidence to validate the aircraft as safe to fly in their respective countries and regions. Following the return to service, the FAA will continue to work closely with our foreign civil aviation partners to evaluate any potential additional enhancements for the aircraft," the FAA added.
"The FAA's directive is an important milestone," said Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We will continue to work with regulators around the world and our customers to return the airplane back into service worldwide," he said.