India’s aviation regulator on Monday said an inspection of Boeing 737-8 Max aircraft by airlines had been performed satisfactorily, two days after it ordered immediate checks of emergency exits in the wake of a mid-air emergency in the US on a 737 Max 9 plane.
The door plug of the Alaska Airlines blew off after the aircraft took off from Portland, Oregon, in the US and triggered flight cancellations. Alaska Airlines grounded all its Boeing 737 Max-9 aircraft, triggering concerns globally.
At present, no Indian airline uses the B737-9 aircraft, the model involved in the recent Alaska Airlines accident.
However, Akasa with 20, SpiceJet with 12, and Air India Express with 9, together have 41 Boeing 737 Max planes, which includes the B737-8 model, in their fleet.
Checks have been satisfactorily performed on four 737 Max 8 aircraft operated by Air India Express, eight by SpiceJet, and 20 by Akasa Air, Reuters reported the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as saying in a statement.
SpiceJet said on Monday that the investigations produced no adverse findings and that its flight operations were not affected by the checks, the report added.
“Pursuant to the Alaska Airlines incident involving Boeing 737-9 Max aircraft, there have been no inputs from Boeing so far. None of the Indian air operators have Boeing 737-9 Max as part of their fleet yet,” a DGCA statement said on Saturday.
“As an abundant precautionary measure, we have directed all Indian air operators to carry out a one-time inspection of the emergency exits immediately on all Boeing 737-9 Max aircraft currently operating as part of their fleet,” the statement added.
Reliance Industries Ltd uses a variant of the Boeing 737-9 Max and has a plugged mid-cabin exit door, Bloomberg reported, citing data from flight data provider Cirium.
The Alaska Airlines flight incident, which fortunately had no fatalities, has prompted safety concerns about the Boeing model and the aviation firm’s overall safety record.
Several airlines from the US to Turkey to Indonesia have temporarily grounded their fleet, with the US Federal Aviation Administration ordering a temporary suspension of certain Max 9 aircraft flights.
This widespread grounding is the most drastic action taken since the entire fleet of Boeing’s Max aircraft was grounded in 2019 after two fatal accidents.
The 737 Max is Boeing’s most successful and revenue-generating model and the latest incident puts the spotlight on Boeing’s production processes, occurring at a time when the company was preparing to step up production of the model.
Alaska Airlines, which grounded 65 planes, has canceled 163 flights, impacting about 21% of its scheduled services and affecting about 25,000 passengers.
The airline anticipates travel disruptions to persist until at least mid-week.
United Airlines, which grounded 79 planes, has reported the cancellation of 180 flights.
Authorities, meanwhile, have recovered the panel that detached from the plane and are analyzing the cause of the incident on Flight 1282, which had 171 passengers on board and had to return to Portland following the malfunction.
Shares of Boeing dropped by 7.9% in premarket trading in the US, while those of Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc., the manufacturer of the 737 fuselage, saw its shares decline by 16%.
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