Singapore Becomes Latest Asian Country To Lift 737 MAX Ban

Credit: Rob Finlayson

SINGAPORE—Nine months after the resumption of Boeing 737 MAX operations in North America, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) lifted its grounding of the aircraft on Sept. 6. 

The island state was among the first countries in the world to implement a stringent ban on the type on March 12, 2019. Singapore prohibited the transit, take-off and landing of 737 MAX, regardless of country of registration. 

CAAS said the decision to allow the aircraft to operate again was made after completing its technical assessment of the FAA-approved design changes made by Boeing, as well as observations of flight operations by other operators, where there have been “no notable safety issues.”

“The CAAS’ decision is an important milestone toward safely returning the 737 MAX to service in Singapore. Boeing continues to work with regulators and our customers to return the airplane to service worldwide,” Boeing said in a statement. 

The move by CAAS comes days after neighboring Malaysia lifted the ban on Sept. 3. India also reapproved the type not long ago. However, Boeing is still waiting on China to allow MAX operations again. 

Singapore Airlines (SIA), which has already recalled six 737-8 from storage in Australia’s Alice Springs, said it will continue working closely with CAAS and the relevant regulators in the coming weeks to fulfill all of the requirements for the return of service of the aircraft. 

“In the coming weeks, all 737 MAX 8 pilots will undergo additional training to familiarize themselves with the new enhancements from Boeing, the flight control software, as well as any situations that they might face during the flight,” an SIA spokesperson told Aviation Daily. “Every pilot must also complete a comprehensive training program, which includes computer-based learning as well as simulator training.” 

SIA has commenced a retrofit of the ex-SilkAir 737-8s following the integration of the regional subsidiary into the parent airline. The new configuration will see lie-flat seats in business class and an economy product. Prior to the grounding, the type was deployed on leaner medium-haul routes, such as to Busan, South Korea, and Hiroshima, Japan.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.