New Delhi: The solution suggested by India’s aviation regulator to avoid a situation similar to the one that likely led to the fatal crash of a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft is unimplementable as of now, veteran aviators said.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) wants airlines to train pilots operating the 737 Max 8 model plane on a simulator by replicating the circumstances that are suspected to have led to the crash off Jakarta in October, which killed all 189 people on board.
The former pilots, one of them a certified instructor, said the DGCA’s recommendation could not be implemented as of now in India as there was neither a simulator for this variant of the 737 aircraft, nor could the set of conditions — that investigators suspect led to the Lion Air crash — be simulated on the available simulator.
“There is no simulator for Boeing 737 Max,” said Captain Shakti Lumba, an independent aviation analyst. “Pilots [in India] are trained on a Boeing 737 NG simulator which doesn’t have the module, or the auto-stab function, present in the Max variant,” he added.
Jet Airways and SpiceJet currently operate five 737 Max planes each.
The DGCA has developed a set of protocols to be followed in case of a problem with the aircraft’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). These include diverting the plane to the nearest airport in case of an issue with the device, reporting any problem with it to the DGCA and carrying out a verification flight if the device is repaired following a glitch. The MCAS is an addition to the 737 Max 8 planes to prevent the plane’s nose from getting too high and causing a stall or drop in speed. In the Lion Air crash, the MCAS is suspected of having forced the nose down because of incorrect information it received from sensors on the fuselage.
An examiner for pilots flying 737 planes, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the aviation watchdog had issued instructions without detailed guidelines.
07/12/18 Jagriti Chandra/The Hindu