DGCA asks SpiceJet, Jet to take ac­tion on sen­sor is­sues with Boe­ing 737 MAX

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AVI­A­TION reg­u­la­tor DGCA has asked Jet Air­ways and SpiceJet to take cor­rec­tive ac­tion to ad­dress pos­si­ble is­sues with their Boe­ing 737 MAX planes that could lead to “sig­nif­i­cant alti­tude loss” of the air­craft, a se­nior of­fi­cial said on Thurs­day.

The lat­est di­rec­tive fol­lows ad­vi­sories is­sued by US watch­dog Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FAA) and Boe­ing af­ter the crash of a Boe­ing 737 MAX plane op­er­ated by In­done­sia’s Lion Air last month.

Cur­rently, Jet Air­ways and SpiceJet fly Boe­ing 737 MAX planes in In­dia. To­gether, there are at least six such air­craft with the two car­ri­ers.

“Both the doc­u­ments ad­dress er­ro­neous high ‘an­gle of at­tack’ (AOA) sen­sor in­put and cor­rec­tive ac­tion for the same as it has po­ten­tial for re­peated nose­down trim com­mands of hor­i­zon­tal sta­biliser,” a se­nior Direc­torate Gen­eral of Civil Avi­a­tion (DGCA) of­fi­cial said.

The of­fi­cial said if the con­di­tion is not ad­dressed, it could cause the flight crew to have dif­fi­culty in con­trol­ling the air­plane.

The con­di­tion can even lead to “ex­ces­sive nose­down at­ti­tude, sig­nif­i­cant alti­tude loss, and pos­si­ble im­pact with ter­rain,” the of­fi­cial noted.

Based on ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Lion Air air­craft ac­ci­dent, the FAA is­sued Emer­gency Air­wor­thi­ness Di­rec­tive (AD) on Novem­ber 7. Boe­ing re­leased a bul­letin about the is­sue on Novem­ber 6.

The DGCA of­fi­cial said that within three days af­ter re­ceipt of FAA AD, changes to air­plane flight man­ual have to be done, for pro­ce­dures which have to be fol­lowed by flight crew.

“The DGCA has en­sured that all In­dian op­er­a­tors are aware of the FAA AD and have taken ap­pro­pri­ate cor­rec­tive ac­tion,” he added.

Com­ments from Jet Air­ways and SpiceJet were awaited. To­gether, the two air­lines have placed or­ders for more than 400 Boe­ing 737 MAX air­craft.

On Novem­ber 6, Boe­ing said it had is­sued an oper­a­tions man­ual bul­letin

(OMB) di­rect­ing op­er­a­tors to ex­ist­ing flight crew pro­ce­dures to ad­dress cir­cum­stances where there is er­ro­neous in­put from an AOA sen­sor.

On Oc­to­ber 30, civil avi­a­tion min­is­ter Suresh Prabhu said the DGCA had been asked to look at en­gines and other is­sues re­lated to air­lines fol­low­ing the plane crash in In­done­sia.

The DGCA had re­viewed the per­for­mance of Boe­ing 737 MAX 8 planes op­er­ated by Jet Air­ways and SpiceJet. The re­view came a day af­ter a Boe­ing 737 MAX 8 air­craft op­er­ated by Lion Air crashed into the sea shortly af­ter tak­ing off from Jakarta. There were more than 180 peo­ple on board. The watch­dog had also sought de­tails about the plane crash from Boe­ing and FAA.

In Septem­ber, the min­is­ter di­rected of­fi­cials con­cerned to pre­pare a com­pre­hen­sive safety au­dit plan, which in­volves as­sess­ment of safety pa­ram­e­ters of all sched­uled air­lines, aero­dromes, fly­ing train­ing schools and main­te­nance, re­pair and over­haul or­gan­i­sa­tions (MROs).

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