Major Indian airlines such as Indigo and Jet Airways are facing hurdles in expanding
operations as they are unable to deploy new Airbus A320 Neo and Boeing 737 MAX jets due
to curbs by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation. The aviation watchdog raised operational safety concerns and recently rejected Jet Airways request to ease norms for its newly acquired 737 MAX aircraft. The curbs were put in place after a 737 MAX jet operated by Indonesian airline Lion Air had crashed last year, killing all 189 people on board.
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
The regulator had earlier rejected the country's largest airline Indigo's request for relaxations
in operating A320 Neo planes with Pratt & Whitney engines. The Gurugram-based airline
has been facing problems with its A320 Neo aircraft powered by P&W engines and there
have been many instances of mid-air engine shutdowns. "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," an unnamed senior DGCA official told The Economic Times. The EDTO limit for A320 neo aircraft also continues to be restricted.
The regulator has limited the EDTO for both the aircraft to 60 minutes, which means that
they can be operated only on routes with an airport reachable in an hour. Jet Airways had
requested the regulator to relax the limit to 120 minutes for its 737 MAX aircraft. The
Mumbai-based operator has five MAX planes in its fleet currently, with 200 on order.
Relaxation in EDTO limit
The airlines need the relaxation in EDTO limit to operate on longer, mainly overseas, routes.
"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 told the newspaper. The hurdle in flying on longer routes is one of the issues
plaguing Jet Airways, which is also facing financial headwinds, leading to delay in salary and
debt payments. The company has also withdrawn flights on several routes as lessors have
grounded aircraft due to non-payment of dues.