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India to conduct own checks even if FAA declares Boeing 737 MAX fit to fly

India to conduct own checks even if FAA declares Boeing 737 MAX fit to fly

India will conduct its own tests on Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft even if the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) clears the grounded jets, Indian officials say.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the certifying authority of US-made jets, is to assess the planes’ safety before they can fly again after 737 MAXs were grounded globally in March following two crashes that killed 346 people.

Ongoing investigations by the FAA recently found that software and sensors contributed to the pilots inability to control the planes. Following the discovery, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) last week told the FAA it would have to run its own tests before approving the 737 MAX for flying again. Now India is following suit, with the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation reportedly about to announce a similar measure.

India plans to start its own assessment of the jets by conducting test flights right after the FAA declares them fit to fly, Bloomberg reported, citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The news outlet noted, however, that the country’s air safety regulator doesn’t expect MAX jets to resume operation in India before 2020. The regulator is also set to demand simulator training for all the pilots certified to fly the MAX jets, CNBC reported, citing a senior official.

SpiceJet Ltd, India’s second-biggest airline, is among the biggest purchasers of the aircraft in the country, with as many as 205 currently on order. The company has been optimistic about the outcome of the checks, predicting that MAX planes will resume flying soon.

“They have fixed the issues in MCAS [flight control system of the aircraft called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System]. They have told us that the plane will fly again by November. The certification process should be completed by October,” a senior executive at SpiceJet said on condition of anonymity, as cited by CNBC.

US-based Boeing has suffered severe losses in profits since the grounding of its best-selling MAX jets. With a large number of the pre-ordered planes long expected by airlines worldwide, the manufacturer has already faced several lawsuits demanding compensation for failed plane deliveries.

Last month, Boeing posted its largest-ever quarterly loss, calculating the total cost of the 737 MAX crisis at over $8 billion. The company even warned that it may have to shut down production of the grounded jet completely if the regulators don’t come up with an assessment soon.

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