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Dangerous plane flying in the sky of India

Singapore, Australia ban use of Boeing 737 MAX

Singapore and Australia on Tuesday banned the use of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in their airspace following a deadly plane crash in Ethiopia on Sunday. 

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in a statement that it was “temporarily suspending operation of all variants of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Singapore in light of two fatal accidents involving Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in less than five months.”

Hours later, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority followed Singapore’s lead with a temporary suspension to review the risks, citing the best interests of safety.

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 went down minutes into a flight to Nairobi on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. This came just months after a Lion Air jet of the same model crashed in Indonesia, killing 189.

The move comes as airlines around the world remove the model from their schedules, while US regulators have ordered Boeing to make urgent improvements to the jet.

Singapore’s suspension will take effect from 2pm local time (06:00 GMT), the authority said.

It also said SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, operates six Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Other airlines operating the planes to Singapore are China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air.

The regulator said it was working with the city-state’s Changi Airport – a major global hub – and affected airlines to minimise any effect on passengers.

“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,” it said.

“The suspension will be reviewed as relevant safety information becomes available.”

Also on Tuesday, a South Korean airline, Eastar Jet, suspended operation of its two Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes. The aircraft will be replaced by Boeing 737-800, starting Wednesday, on routes to Japan and Thailand, according to the airline official who did not want to be named, citing office rules.

On Monday, China also ordered domestic airlines to suspend commercial operation of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 until after “confirming the relevant measures to effectively ensure flight safety”.

Indonesia said it was also grounding its 11 jets of the same type. Ethiopian Airlines has done the same “until further notice”, so did Gol in Brazil, Argentina’s state airline Aerolineas Argentinas and Mexico’s Aeromexico.

On Tuesday, India’s Jet Airways said it grounded its five Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, saying it is not flying any of the 737 Max planes in its fleet and is “in contact with the manufacturer”.

Air Italy, Oman Air, Turkish Airlines and Russian airline S7 said they were closely following the ongoing investigation into the crash and were in contact with Boeing, but the aircraft would continue to fly as scheduled.

Jens Thordarson, the operations chief of Icelandair, which flies three Boeing 737 MAX 8s, said that it would be “premature” to link the crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. For now, “nothing pushes us towards the slightest action,” he said.

Norwegian Air Shuttle, which has 18 aircraft of the same type in the air, and Flydubai also have confidence in their planes

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 India is likely to order grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft by Wednesday afternoon which will force SpiceJet to take 12-13 aircraft out of operations, highly placed sources said on Tuesday.

The five B737 that Jet Airways has in its fleet are already grounded due to non-payment of lease rentals.

“The order will be issued by Wednesday afternoon. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will see if overflying by the Boeing 737 MAX also needs to be stopped after studying whether airlines of nearby regions use this plane to overfly India on their international routes. We need to study that before taking a call on overflying by MAX,” sources said.

A large number of countries and standalone airlines have grounded the B737 MAX, with Singapore and Australia even banning its overflying following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed 157 people on Sunday, five months after a similar Indonesian Lion Air jet plunged into the ocean, killing 189.

SilkAir, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines (SIA), used to operate its MAX to Hyderabad and Bangalore. 

“SilkAir will be flying the Boeing 737 NG (new generation) to Hyderabad and Bangalore instead of the Boeing 737 MAX,” said a SIA spokesperson. 

Singapore’s aviation authority has suspended “all variants of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Singapore.”

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority temporarily suspended airlines from flying B737 MAX jets to or from Australia. 

China and Indonesia had taken a similar decision soon after Sunday’s crash. 

Aerolíneas Argentinas is grounding its five Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes and so are Ethiopian Airlines, Aeromexico, Cayman Airways and South Africa’s Comair and South Korea’s Eastar Jet.

The DGCA had on Monday issued instructions asking only captains and co-pilots with over 1,000 and 500 hours of flying experience on this aircraft to operate the B737. 

The direction was criticised by several experts who pointed out that pilots operating the ill-fated Lion Air and Ethiopian B737 MAX had significant flying experience.

“It is about a snag in the aircraft, its operating system. It is not something that can be taken care of by simply asking experienced pilots to fly the plane. That decision by DGCA made no sense,” said a senior pilot of the B737 MAX who said a new operating system almost gives the MAX “a mind of its own after which the pilots can do nothing.”

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