India’s aviation safety regulator will step up surveillance on the Boeing 737 fleet operated by airlines here, in light of Monday’s crash of a China Eastern flight operating the same aircraft type. This means the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will increase “monitoring of procedures” followed by Indian carriers in operating, maintaining and keeping their 737 fleet airworthy.
Currently, budget airlines Air India Express and SpiceJet, in addition to full-service carrier Vistara flt the Boeing 737 aircraft in their fleets. While most of these are the older generations 737 planes, SpiceJet operates some new generation 737MAX planes as well.
“Flight safety is a serious business. We are closely studying the situation and in the interim,we are mounting enhanced surveillance on our 737 fleet,” DGCA chief Arun Kumar told The Indian Express, adding “We are deploying teams to monitor flight procedures, air-worthiness and operations.” SpiceJet has 47 older generation 737 aircraft, including 36 737-800 planes. Air India Express has 24 Boeing 737-800 planes, and Vistara has five 737-800 aircraft in its fleet.
The China Eastern plane that crashed Monday with 132 people on board was an older generation Boeing 737-800, on its way from Kunming to Guangzhou.
Two Boeing 737MAX aircraft were involved in accidents from October 2018 to March 2019, claiming 346 lives. The DGCA had then banned Boeing 737MAX planes in India in March 2019. After Boeing made necessary software rectifications to the satisfaction of the DGCA, the ban on the aircraft’s commercial operations was lifted after 27 months in August last year.