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India

India’s aviation regulator wants pilots to train in a simulator that replicates the deadly Lion Air crash

  • An Indonesian Lion Air 737 MAX passenger jet flying to Jakarta from Bali crashed on October 29, killing all 189 people on board
  • Aviation authorities in Indonesia also announced on Wednesday that they will immediately impose new requirements for simulator training for the 737 MAX
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 December, 2018, 10:51pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 December, 2018, 1:30am

Pilots flying Boeing’s 737 MAX jets in India should be trained in a simulator that replicates the suspected scenario that led to the Lion Air crash, the country’s aviation regulator said in a statement on Thursday.

An Indonesian Lion Air 737 MAX passenger jet flying to Jakarta from Bali crashed on October 29, killing all 189 people on board.

While India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) recommended more training, it said Jet Airways and SpiceJet, which operate 737 MAX jets in India, have not had problems with the aircraft.

“Even though Indian operators have not experienced such [a] major concern … [the] following decisions were taken as interim precautionary safety measures till such time [as] Boeing issues more detailed information or clarification,” the DGCA said.

Meanwhile, Indonesian aviation authorities also announced on Wednesday that they will immediately impose new requirements for simulator training for the 737 MAX.

“In the past there was three hours of computer based training,” air transportation director general Polana Banguningsih Pramesti told reporters, in reference to requirements for pilots switching from older versions of the 737. In the future, simulators will also be required, she said.

Pramesti noted, however, that Boeing 737 MAX simulators were “only available in several countries”.

Lion Air expects to have its own 737 MAX simulator next year, managing director Daniel Putut said last week.

An interim Indonesian report did not give a cause for the Lion Air crash but focused on airline maintenance and training and the response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor.

Boeing eyes software upgrade for popular 737 as Lion Air flight’s airworthiness comes under scrutiny

Lion Air pilots flying the same plane on its penultimate flight a day earlier had experienced a similar problem of nose-down movements, but used a procedure to switch off the relevant system.

Boeing has said this was the correct procedure. But US pilot unions have said a software upgrade was not included in training or manuals and that it changed the behaviour of some controls in a way that could confuse pilots.

The Seattle-based aeroplane maker is weighing plans to launch a software upgrade for the 737 MAX that would help address the issue faced by the Lion Air crew, it was reported earlier. Boeing did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The DGCA has asked airlines to provide detailed technical information and a reporting plan to its crew if they detect a manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) defect.

The Indian regulator said airlines must instruct the crew to divert to the nearest possible airport if there is a MCAS defect during a flight.

Indonesian crash investigators clarify ‘airworthiness’ comments

Indonesia’s transport safety committee, in its preliminary report, criticised the decision by a crew on the same jet the evening before the crash to continue to their destination rather than diverting the flight after the MCAS system activated. The crew in that case managed to shut off the system.

The DGCA said that if an aircraft has had any MCAS related issues, the airline would need to carry out a verification flight, meaning one without passengers, before undertaking any commercial flight.

Lion Air did not perform a test flight after conducting maintenance the night before the crash, according to the Indonesian report.