Indian carriers such as IndiGo and Jet Airways have not been able to deploy some of their new planes on longer, mainly overseas, routes due to regulatory curbs, with the aviation watchdog raising operational safety concerns. The DGCA has rejected a request by Jet Airways to ease norms for its newly acquired Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, said people with knowledge of the matter. The curbs follow a Boeing 737 MAX crash in Indonesia last year. The regulator had earlier rejected IndiGo’s request to relax conditions on operating Airbus 320neos equipped with Pratt & Whitney engines.
“We have rejected Jet Airways’ request to relax the Extended Diversion Time Operations (EDTO) limit for Boeing 737 MAX aircraft because we are concerned about the performance of the aircraft, and would like operations to continue with restrictions,” said a senior DGCA official, who did not want to be identified. The official added that the EDTO limit for Airbus 320neo also continues to be restricted. The EDTO limit for both aircraft is 60 minutes as of now, which means they can be operated only on routes where an airport is reachable within that period. The regulator has to relax the EDTO limit for both aircraft types before they can be used on longer routes. Jet Airways said it had applied to the DGCA for a 120-minute EDTO approval for its Boeing 737 MAX fleet.
It has five planes now with about 200 on order. “An EDTO approval will permit Jet Airways to replace its existing 737 NG routes operated under EDTO, and connect destinations that are out of range of the airline’s 737 NG fleet,” the airline said in response to ET’s query, referring to the older planes that it has. The development comes as Jet struggles with delayed salary and debt payments as well as planes being grounded because lessors haven’t got their money. It has withdrawn several flights owing to this as it looks to stem losses. SpiceJet, another Indian airline that has the Boeing 737 MAX, said it is not affected by the operational curbs as its limited overseas network restricts the scope for deploying this type of aircraft on existing routes.