BOEING’S WINGS GET CLIPPED

Written by Russ Hoe

What happened?

Singapore is the first country to impose a temporary ban on all flight operations carried out by the Boeing 737 MAX passenger jet. This was a decision made in light of the twin spate of fatal crash accidents that happened within a span of five months. The suspension was announced by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and came into effect on 12 Mar 2019.

On 29 Oct 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft belonging to LionAir crashed into the Java sea, killing 189 passengers. This marked the world’s first crash of the Boeing 737 MAX, an aircraft model that has been in service in various airlines around the world since 2017. The second crash that followed occurred on 10 Mar 2019, which involved a jet owned by Ethiopian Air. The accident happened a few minutes after take-off and claimed the lives of all 157 passengers on board.

While the ban has affected the schedules of various flights in Changi Airport, no major disruptions have been reported or expected. Many affected airlines, including Singapore’s flagship airlines— Singapore Airlines, and its subsidiary, Silk Air, have opted to switch planes as the first method of circumventing the inconveniences faced by affected passengers.

 

International response

After Singapore’s decision to ground all operations of the B-737 MAX, many other countries such as Australia, The United Kingdom, China, India and Oman have followed suit. Even when more countries are imposing the ban, the United States have taken the contrarian approach to the matter. The US Federation Aviation Authority (FAA) initially refused a ban on US carriers, stating that investigations were made, and that the agency remained confident that the B-737 MAX is safe to fly. On 13 Mar, U.S. President Donald Trump reversed the earlier decision after days of mounting pressure by multiple airline crew, customers, and even politicians from both major parties in the United States.

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