Parliament: B-737 Max flights to be suspended until all safety concerns addressed

SilkAir has six Boeing 737 Max planes in its fleet, and has had to cancel or adjust some flights, affecting about 300 passengers a day.
SilkAir has six Boeing 737 Max planes in its fleet, and has had to cancel or adjust some flights, affecting about 300 passengers a day.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
SilkAir has six Boeing 737 Max planes in its fleet, and has had to cancel or adjust some flights, affecting about 300 passengers a day.
Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary

Singapore will continue to suspend Boeing 737 Max flights until the authorities are fully satisfied that all safety concerns have been adequately addressed, but other Boeing jets can operate as usual, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said in Parliament yesterday.

"There is currently no evidence of safety issues with other Boeing aircraft," he said .

As for the B-737 Max, he said: "CAAS (Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore) will only lift the suspension when it is fully satisfied that all safety concerns relating to the aircraft type have been adequately addressed. During the suspension, CAAS will not allow airlines to register new Boeing 737 Max aircraft."

Dr Janil, who was responding to Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC), stressed: "In aviation, ensuring the safety of passengers and crew is paramount."

Singapore Airlines' (SIA) regional arm, SilkAir, has six B-737 Max planes in its fleet. Due to the suspension, the airline has had to cancel or adjust some flights, affecting about 300 passengers a day, he said.

These passengers have been offered either refunds or the option to be rebooked on other flights.

If the suspension continues, more flights may be cancelled, Dr Janil said.

 
 
 

Four foreign airlines were also operating the B-737 Max aircraft to Singapore.

As they have limited services to Singapore, they have been able to maintain normal operations using other aircraft types, except Shandong Airlines, which has had to suspend its operations to Singapore.

Dr Janil said: "CAAS will continue to work with the Changi Airport Group, SIA and SilkAir, and other affected airlines to minimise the impact on passengers."

The authority has been communicating closely with Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as other leading regulators, including the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, on the safety issues of the B-737 Max aircraft, he added.

Even as investigations into what caused the Ethiopian Airlines crash are ongoing, Boeing has decided to introduce a design change to the aircraft's Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, as soon as it gets the go-ahead from the FAA and other leading aviation regulators.

Dr Janil said: "CAAS is closely monitoring this and will ensure that SilkAir incorporates the fix once it is available."

The MCAS is designed to prevent the aircraft from entering into a stall, or losing lift. A system malfunction that the pilots were unable to overcome is believed to have caused both the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air accidents.

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2019, with the headline 'B-737 Max flights to be suspended until all safety concerns addressed'. Print Edition | Subscribe