Singapore lifts flight ban on Boeing 737 Max planes
Singapore's aviation authority lifted a flight ban on Boeing 737 Max planes that was imposed more than two years ago.
The 737 Max had been banned from commercial operations in Singapore in March 2019 after two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said yesterday it has lifted the restrictions after completing its technical assessment.
This comes after some other aviation authorities - such as those in the United States and the European Union - earlier lifted restrictions on the plane.
The CAAS said it had evaluated the design changes made to the aircraft by Boeing that were approved by the US Federal Aviation Administration and other validating authorities.
"CAAS also reviewed that there have been no notable safety issues," it said.
The 737 Max was grounded by the aviation authorities worldwide after two crashes within a span of five months, from October 2018 to March 2019. A total of 346 people died.
Investigations pinpointed a faulty flight handling system known as the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) as a principal cause in both crashes.
It was intended to keep the plane from stalling as it ascends, but the automated system instead forced the nose of the plane downwards.
Boeing said that it has made changes to the system and also to the plane so that flight crews are "likely never to experience a situation that would activate MCAS".
CAAS has issued a directive for operating the aircraft, in line with the lifting of restrictions.
It requires airline operators that operate the 737 Max in Singapore to implement a set of measures, including establishing a specific flight crew training programme.
Pilots have to go through additional simulator sessions to ensure that they are adequately trained to handle aircraft emergencies.
Singapore Airlines is the only one of the three local airlines that operate the 737 Max, with six such aircraft in its fleet.
CAAS said SIA must prove it has implemented all required actions before it can use the plane for commercial operations.
Foreign airlines intending to operate the 737 Max will have to comply with a range of safety requirements as well.
SIA said it welcomed the decision by CAAS, and that it has progressively flown its six 737-8 planes back to Singapore from the Alice Springs storage facility in Australia.
The airline said it has proactively completed technical modifications and software upgrades, and conducted operational readiness flights in Alice Springs.
It will announce further details on its 737-8 operations at a later date.