After discovering that 90 SpiceJet pilots were not adequately qualified, India's aviation authority, the DGCA, has prevented them from flying the Boeing 737 Max.
"For the time being, we have prohibited these pilots from operating the Max, and they must successfully retrain to fly the aircraft," said DGCA chief Arun Kumar in a statement.
He also stated that the agency will take "severe punishment" against those found to be culpable for the failure. The pilots will have to go through proper training on the Max simulator once more.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, or DGCA, grounded Boeing 737 Max planes in India on March 13, 2019, three days after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max airliner crashed near Addis Ababa, killing 157 people , including four Indians.
The planes' prohibition was lifted in August of last year after the DGCA was satisfied that Boeing, a US-based aircraft manufacturer, had made the necessary software corrections in the planes.
The DGCA included proper simulator pilot training as one of the prerequisites for lifting the ban on the Max planes after a 27-month period.
A SpiceJet representative stated today that the DGCA has barred 90 of the airline's pilots from operating Max planes.
"SpiceJet has 650 pilots who have received Boeing 737 Max training. The DGCA observed the training profile followed by 90 pilots, and as a result of the DGCA's advice, SpiceJet has prohibited 90 pilots from operating Max aircraft until they undergo re-training to the satisfaction of the DGCA. These pilots are still available to fly other Boeing 737 aircraft "According to the spokeswoman.
"The operations of the Max aircraft are unaffected by this restriction. SpiceJet now runs 11 Max aircraft, which require approximately 144 pilots to operate "According to the spokeswoman.
"Of the 650 trained pilots on the Max, 560 are still available, which is far more than the present requirement," stated the spokeswoman.
SpiceJet is the only Indian airline that flies the Boeing 737 Max.
In November of last year, Akasa Air, the new airline backed by ace investor Jhunjhunwala and aviation veterans Aditya Ghosh and Vinay Dube, sealed an agreement with Boeing to buy 72 Max planes. As of now, Akasa Air does not have any of these planes.