By Albert Kuan
Singapore Airlines To Bring 737 MAX Back Into Service
More than two years after the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) grounded the Boeing 737 MAX from flying into and out of Singapore, the aviation authority finally lifted its suspension of the narrowbody jet on Sunday. CAAS affirmed it would approve returning the Boeing 737 MAX to service based on operators complying with directives and additional flight crew training requirements.
In response to the lifting of the suspension, Singapore Airlines confirmed Monday that its pilots certified to operate the Boeing 737 MAX would undergo additional training to bring the aircraft back to service in the airline’s fleet. Singapore Airlines said further details on when the jet would be put back in service and on which routes would be announced at a later date.
Singapore Airlines is the sole operator of the 737 MAX in Singapore. Its regional subsidiary, SilkAir, was the sole operator of the narrowbody jet before its operations were suspended by aviation authorities in 2019. SilkAir has now fully merged with its parent company, leaving Singapore Airlines as the nation’s only airline utilizing the 737 MAX.
Singapore Airlines added six 737 MAX jets from Silkair to its fleet following the merger in 2020, and according to planespotters.net, currently has eight more of the 737 MAX 8 variant — the smallest of the three in the MAX family of aircraft — on order. The Singapore flag carrier also recently began operating Boeing 737-800 jets on regional services earlier this year.
Singapore Airlines said its pilots must complete a comprehensive training program, including computer-based learning as well as simulator training, in order to become recertified on the aircraft. The additional training will help Singapore Airlines crew familiarize themselves with possible scenarios that they might face during the flight and the new enhancements to the jet from Boeing.
The approval for the 737 MAX’s return for Singapore comes several months after the Boeing jet returned to service for many airlines around the world, including those in the U.S., Latin America and Europe. Grounding orders for the aircraft were only recently lifted in Australia, Japan, India and just days ago in Malaysia. Singapore is the second country to approve 737 MAX operations in Southeast Asia, after Malaysia.
Singapore’s CAAS explained it lifted its suspension on 737 MAX planes after evaluating design changes to the aircraft made by Boeing and the jet’s safety record over the past nine months. They determined the jet has “no notable safety issues”.
Singapore grounded the 737 MAX in March 2019 following two fatal crashes involving the jet. In October 2018, a 737 MAX operated by Indonesia-based Lion Air crashed, killing 157 people, and in March 2019, the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet killed 157 people.
Brazilian airline GOL Airlines was the first airline to bring the jet back into service, launching its first flight on Dec. 9, 2020. GOL brought the aircraft back into service just 10 days after Brazilian regulators lifted the aircraft’s suspension in Brazil.