NEW DELHI: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has grounded a SpiceJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft that returned to Chennai airport minutes after taking off for Durgapur in West Bengal on May 3 because of a technical glitch.
“We don’t see any specific problem with Max. It is a particular engine-related issue that is being investigated,’’ the Director General of Civil Aviation Arun Kumar told this newspaper. A spokesperson of the airline said Flight SG 331 returned due to a technical issue and landed back safely at the Chennai airport, but did not elaborate on the ‘glitch’.
However, according to sources, the oil filter bypass for engine number 2 flashed during the aircraft’s climb, forcing the pilot to shut down the engine and return to the Chennai airport within five minutes. The pilot requested priority landing of the aircraft.
This was the second episode within the first three days of this month that put the spotlight on SpiceJet. On May 1, the DGCA had ordered a probe into an incident causing injuries to 17 people on board a Mumbai-Durgapur flight because of turbulence.
Only a month ago, the DGCA had barred 90 SpiceJet pilots from flying B737 Max as there were issues with the simulator training them. In another incident involving a Boeing 737 MAX since the ban on the aircraft was lifted by the DGCA, a Kolkata-bound SpiceJet aircraft had returned to Mumbai after take-off when one of its engines shut down in December 2021.
The 737 MAX aircraft had resumed operations globally in December 2020 two years after they were grounded following the 2018 Lion Air and 2019 Ethiopian Air crashes that left a total of 346 people dead. The faulty handling system of the plane was blamed for the two crashes. Boeing later revamped all the aircraft.
Issues with training simulator
A month ago, the DGCA had barred 90 SpiceJet pilots from flying B737 Max as there were issues with the simulator training them.