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Singapore suspends Boeing 737 MAX flights

Agency | March 12, 2019 01:38 PM

SINGAPORE: Singapore on Tuesday temporarily suspended the Boeing 737 Max fleet of aircraft from flying in and out of the country, joining other leading carriers who made similar moves following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane of the same model that killed all 157 people onboard.

Singapore is believed to be the first country to ban all variants of the aircraft.

The suspension went into effect from 2 p.m., the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore announced.

The move will affect SilkAir, a regional carrier in the city-state, and the following airlines that fly into Singapore and have the 737 MAX in their fleets: China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air.

Singapore Airlines does not have any 737 MAX 8 planes.

Singapore's decision comes shortly after Aerolíneas Argentinas announced it was grounding its five Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes.

The other airlines and countries that have suspended use of the 737 MAX 8 are Ethiopian Airlines, China, Indonesia, Aeromexico, Cayman Airways and South Africa's Comair.

Indian flight regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, on Monday issued fresh safety directives that included minimum experience level of crew operating the B737 Max plane to fly as pilot should be 1,000 hours and co-pilot 500 hours on Boeing 737 NG aircraft type.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) however, has declined to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in the country. But it said it would mandate that American carriers install a software enhancement to the aircraft no later than next month.

"Boeing has been working closely with the FAA on development, planning and certification of the software enhancement, and it will be deployed across the 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks," it said in a statement on Monday night.

Boeing has sent a technical team to the crash site to provide assistance to investigators.

The carriers that have not grounded this aircraft are Fiji Airways, American Airlines, Norwegian, Southwest Airlines and Icelandair.

On Sunday, Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302, on its way to the Kenyan capital Nairobi from Addis Ababa, crashed six minutes after take-off. It ploughed into a field near Tulu Fara village outside the town of Bishoftu, some 60 km southeast of the Ethiopian capital.

The cause of the crash is under probe.

This disaster was the second involving the new aircraft in the last four months.

Last October, a Lion Air plane plunged into the sea off the coast of West Java 13 minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 on board.

The Boeing 737 Max fleet of aircraft are the latest in the company's successful 737 line. The group includes the Max 7, 8, 9 and 10 models, BBC reported.

By the end of January, Boeing had delivered 350 of the Max 8 model out of 5,011 orders. A small number of Max 9s are also operating.

The Max 7 and 10 models, not yet delivered, are due for roll-out in the next few years.

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