The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on May 30 announced a monetary penalty of Rs 10 lakh on private carrier SpiceJet, on the charge of utilising faulty simulator to train pilots.
The training imparted by SpiceJet using the faulty simulator could have "adversely effected flight safety", the aviation sector regulator said.
The DGCA had in April issued a show cause notice to the airline for training around 90 pilots at a faulty facility at CAE Simulation Training Pvt Ltd (CSTPL), Greater Noida on March 30.
“The airline's reply was not found satisfactory. DGCA has therefore imposed a penalty of Rs 10 lakh on SpiceJet for utilising a faulty simulator to train their pilots,” a senior DGCA official said.
The aviation regulator had barred SpiceJet's 90 pilots from flying the B737 Max aircraft and had ordered the pilots to be retrained.
“Ninety pilots have been restrained from flying the Boeing 737 Max. They will have to undergo training again to the satisfaction of DGCA,” Director-General Arun Kumar had said in April. He added that the DGCA would take strict action against those found responsible for the lapse and said that the pilots will have to undergo training again, in a proper manner, on the Max simulator.
According to a senior DGCA official, when the 90 pilots were sent for training at the CAE Simulation Training Pvt Ltd in Noida, the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was not working properly on the simulator.
“A part of the MCAS system, the ‘stick shaker’ that vibrates the control column and makes a loud noise when the jet risks losing lift, was not working properly in the simulator at the time of training these pilots,” the official said.
Another industry insider aware of the matter said that at the time of training, Boeing was still in the process of installing its new updated MCAS system at the Noida training facility when the SpiceJet pilots were sent for training.
Boeing had opened this facility in 2020 for training pilots to operate the 737 Max.
The DGCA official added that proper pilot training was part of the aviation regulator’s conditions for lifting the ban on the Boeing 737 Max in India, after the planes were grounded in India on March 13, 2019, following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max aircraft near Addis Ababa. Almost a year before the Ethiopian Airlines crash, a Lion Air Flight from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang also had crashed.The ban on the planes was lifted in August 2021 after the DGCA was satisfied with the software upgrade implemented by Boeing in each of the Max aircraft.