India’s aviation regulator has banned Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft from its airspace and grounded the nation’s entire fleet of the bestselling jet amid concerns over its safety in the wake of the recent crash in Ethiopia.The DGCA, the Indian aviation authority, announced the decision to ground all 737 MAX 8 single-aisle aircraft on Tuesday evening, following in the footsteps of numerous regulatory bodies in other countries and certain airlines.The planes will stay in hangars “till appropriate modification and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations,” India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation stated on Twitter.”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,”the ministry added.The order will affect two major Indian airlines, the low-cost SpiceJet, which lists 13 model MAX 8 jets among its fleet, and Jet Airways, which has five.SpiceJet echoed the aviation authority in its own statement, stressing that the safety of crew and passengers is of preeminent importance to the carrier. On Monday, the airline sought to defend the jet amid a wave of groundings, calling it a “highly sophisticated aircraft.”The suspension comes a day after the DGCA ordered additional maintenance checks on the planes and instructed the airlines to ensure that the aircraft are flown only by experienced pilots and co-pilots that have clocked in at least 1,000 hours and 500 hours on 737 MAX 8 jets, respectively.Early on Wednesday, India closed its airspace to the troubled Boeing model completely. “No B737 Max aircraft will be allowed to enter or transit Indian airspace effective 1600hrs IST or 1030 UTC,” the ministry tweeted.
Planes had to be diverted and grounded when the EU announced that its airspace was off-limits for the aircraft on Tuesday, citing safety concerns.
An array of other countries have suspended flights while the investigation into the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines jet on Sunday, which killed 157 people on board, is underway. Four Indians were among the victims.
China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Norway, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Singapore and Oman placed a temporary ban on flying the jets. Several European countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Belgium suspended flights in a separate move from the EU. Several individual airlines followed suit of their own will.
Boeing shares continued sliding on Tuesday, tanking by a further six percent, which amounts to a roughly an 11-percent drop in two days.