SilkAir Flies 737 MAX Back To Singapore Under Strict Conditions

SilkAir 737 MAX 8
A SilkAir 737-8.
Credit: Boeing

SINGAPORE—SilkAir removed its first Boeing 737-8 from deep storage in Alice Springs, Australia and flew the aircraft back to Singapore on Dec. 30, 2020. 

The Singapore Airlines (SIA) subsidiary brought back the aircraft after the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) issued a Permit-to-Fly for SilkAir to ferry it to Singapore for retrofitting and upgrading. 

“This Permit-to-Fly does not constitute approval for SilkAir to return the Boeing 737 MAX to service. CAAS’s review of the airworthiness of the aircraft is in progress. We will need to be assured that all aspects of the safety of Boeing 737 MAX operations have been addressed,” CAAS deputy director general Tay Tiang Guan said in a media statement. “As part of this review, CAAS will consider the U.S. FAA’s requirements and will determine if there is a need to impose additional requirements before we lift the suspension on Boeing 737 MAX operations.” 

The aircraft, 9V-MBA, is the first of six 737-8s currently in SilkAir’s fleet, stored in Australia since September 2019 following the uncertainty of the type’s recertification. 

The 737-8 was one of the key elements in the SIA Group’s restructuring and was initially planned to be transferred to SIA to operate leaner routes in the short- to medium- haul destinations such as Busan (PUS) and Hiroshima (HIJ). Instead, SilkAir’s 737-800s are now being repainted in SIA livery and will not be retrofitted with new business and economy class products. SilkAir is a full-service regional carrier for SIA.

In March 2019, Singapore became the first country to ban both incoming and outgoing flights of the type following the two high-profile crashes of Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAXs.   

Other than the six 737-8s at Alice Springs, Aviation Week Intelligence Network Fleet & Data Services also show eight other undelivered 737-8s stored in the U.S. at Grant County International Airport (MWH) in Moses Lake, Washington, and at Kelly Field Airport (SKF) in San Antonio, Texas.

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.