Boeing Co is looking at setting up a flight simulator for its grounded 737 MAX jet in India to help hasten its return there, according to SpiceJet Ltd, one of the biggest customers for the narrow-body model.
The US manufacturer is in talks with India about establishing a local facility by April or May, SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh said on Friday in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“We have ongoing discussions with Boeing but I think they will pay for the training,” Singh said.
SpiceJet has idled 13 jets after the MAX was grounded globally in March after two crashes, having agreed orders or options on 205.
Boeing said January 8 it had advised regulators that pilots will need more than brief tablet-based instruction before flying the MAX.
That could swell costs by $5bn, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, since the company will be expected to reimburse airline expenses after selling the jet on the basis that pilots certified for the previous 737 would need minimal additional training.
The manufacturer pushed back the time-line for the MAX’s return on January 21, saying it won’t now make a comeback until mid-2020.
Singh said he’s been told re-certification is expected in March or April, which after pilot training and other steps should mean SpiceJet planes are “fit to fly in May or June.”
Like several other airline bosses, Singh said he’ll be on the first flight, adding that the MAX will be the safest aircraft around “with all the due diligence that’s been done.”
SpiceJet expects to agree compensation for its grounded planes with Boeing in the next few weeks, Singh said, with the money offsetting lost profitability so that the company doesn’t need to raise fresh cash.
The carrier is continuing discussions with Boeing rival Airbus SE, other airlines and leasing firms to expand capacity, he said.
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