India’s civil aviation authority has suspended 90 pilots from SpiceJet from operating Boeing 737 MAX aircraft until they have received further training.  

Local media cited the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as saying 90 pilots had been restrained from flying the Boeing 737 MAX. “They will have to undergo training again to the satisfaction of DGCA," DGCA Director-General Arun Kumar told ANI news agency and the Times of India. 

Indian authorities had stepped up surveillance of the country’s 737 fleet after the accident of China Eastern Airlines (CIAH) (CEA) flight MU5735, which crashed into mountains while en-route to Guangzhou on March 21, 2022. The China Eastern airlines aircraft was a B737-800, not the newest MAX variant.  

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A spokesperson for SpiceJet confirmed the suspension but said operations of the MAX wouldn’t be affected. The pilots are still authorized to operate other Boeing 737 aircraft. 

“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,” the spokesperson said in a statement to AeroTime. “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 Times of India cited a source as saying that the MCAS system was not working properly in the simulator when the 90 pilots in question were in training. The MCAS flight control system was found to be the main factor in the crash of both Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.  

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SpiceJet is India’s only operator of the 737 MAX and returned the type to service in late November 2021 after Indian authorities lifted a flight ban following the two crashes.