Singapore, China, Indonesia Ground Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 as Concerns Mount
By Staff, Agencies
Singapore suspended operations of all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in and out of Changi airport on Tuesday, and Indonesia and China grounded their fleets of the US plane maker’s latest model after it suffered a second fatal crash in less than five months.
The scare has wiped billions of dollars off the market value of the world’s biggest plane maker, as the Boeing Co share closed 5 percent down on Monday having fallen by as much as 13.5 percent at one point.
A day after a Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet plunged to the ground, killing all 157 people aboard, the United States stressed it was safe to fly the planes.
But a statement issued by Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAAS) showed question-marks hanging over the aircraft after Sunday’s disaster could not be dispelled so fast.
“During the temporary suspension, CAAS will gather more information and review the safety risk associated with the continued operation of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Singapore,” the aviation regulator said in a statement.
It is the first major regulator to order such an action, but the anxiety was also evident among air travelers, who rushed to find out from social media whether they were booked to fly on 737 MAX planes – the same model involved in the Lion Air crash off Indonesia that killed 189 people in October.
There has been no information yet to link the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines incidents.
Investigators in Ethiopia found two black box recorders that will provide information about what happened before the plane plunged into farmland minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa.
So long as the recordings are undamaged, the cause of the crash could be identified quickly, although it typically takes a year to fully complete an investigation.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a “continued airworthiness notification” for the 737 MAX late on Monday to assure operators, and detailed a series of design changes mandated by Boeing.
Boeing issued a statement as well, saying it had been working with the FAA in the aftermath of a Lion Air crash to develop enhancements to flight control software that will be deployed across the 737 MAX fleet in coming weeks.
The improvements include updates to the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system, pilot displays, operation manuals and crew training.