Singapore joins growing list of countries grounding Boeing’s 737 MAX 8

Boeing said a software upgrade would be added to all MAX jets. Photo: AFP

SINGAPORE, Mar 12, 2019, SCMP. Singapore on Tuesday joined a growing list of countries that have grounded Boeing’s new 737 MAX 8 following two fatal crashes involving the aircraft, reported the South China Morning Post.

The number of nations taking the plane out of service continued to rise overnight. Singapore’s decision will affect a host of foreign carriers as well as domestic airlines.

By Tuesday morning Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc, British Airways’ South African franchisee Comair, MIAT Mongolian Airlines, Aeroméxico and Brazil’s Gol Airlines had become the latest companies to suspend flights using the plane.

The airliner is an upgraded version of Boeing’s bestselling jet, the 737.

China decided on Monday to stop domestic airlines from flying the aircraft, a move which affects more than a dozen carriers and almost 100 planes. Indonesia soon followed suit.

Ethiopian Airlines, whose brand-new 737 MAX 8 crashed on Sunday, has also grounded the plane, as has Cayman Airways.

However, the United States has told international carriers that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) believes the jet is airworthy, and the country has not yet taken any action.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said it would suspend all operations involving the aircraft moving into and out of the city state from 2pm on Tuesday, “in light of the two fatal accidents involving Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in less than five months”.

The decision will affect six jets operated by SilkAir, Singapore Airlines’ regional carrier, as well as foreign firms China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air. The authority said it would work to minimise the impact.

Eyes will be on whether Hong Kong will follow. A handful of airlines fly a 737 MAX 8 to or from the city. They include Russia’s S7 Airlines, which flies from Novosibirsk, Indian no-frills airline SpiceJet from New Delhi, and Garuda Indonesia from Jakarta.

However, no Hong Kong carrier operates the single-aisle jet or has plans to buy one.
Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department has been contacted for comment.

Boeing and the FAA said overnight that a software upgrade which had been in development for several months would be added to all MAX jets in the coming weeks.

But the aviation authority added it would require design changes from Boeing by no later than April in relation to the plane’s much criticised Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System. The system has been linked to a Lion Air crash of another 737 MAX 8 in Indonesia last year.

“External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018,” the FAA said in a public notice. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided with data to draw any conclusion or take any action.”

Share it

Exclusive: Beyond the Covid-19 world's coverage