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Oral Reply by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Janil Puthucheary to Parliamentary Question on Boeing 737 Max flights

01 Apr 2019 In Parliament

Miss Cheng Li Hui asked the Minister for Transport with regard to the suspension of all Boeing 737 Max aircrafts flying in and out of Singapore

a.     whether he can provide an update on the suspension of all Boeing 737 Max flights from Changi Airport; 

b.     how long is it expected to last;

c.     what is the number of Boeing 737 Max aircraft serving the Singapore route and affected by the suspension; (d) what is the estimated number of travellers affected; and

d.     what measures are in place to minimise the impact to travellers.

Miss Cheng Li Hui asked the Minister for Transport

a.     whether the aircraft procurement plans of our local airlines are in any way affected by the accidents involving the Boeing 737 Max aircraft; 

b.     what is the status of our communication with the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing regarding the safety aspects of the aircraft; and

c.     whether it is necessary to review the safety risks of other Boeing planes since Boeing 737 Max is reported to be one of the industry's most reliable passenger aircraft.

Reply by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Janil Puthucheary:

1.     We are shocked and deeply saddened by the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 on 10 March 2019, and also the earlier crash of Lion Air flight JT610 on 29 October 2018. Both disasters involved brand new Boeing 737 Max aircraft, during the first 15 minutes of their take-off.  Our condolences and thoughts go out to the families of the victims.

2.     In aviation, ensuring the safety of passengers and crew is paramount. This is why the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) suspended operations of all variants of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft into and out of Singapore on 12 March 2019. CAAS will only lift the suspension when it is fully satisfied that all safety concerns relating to the aircraft type have been adequately addressed. During the suspension, CAAS will not allow airlines to register new Boeing 737 Max aircraft. There is currently no evidence of safety issues with other Boeing aircraft.

3.     CAAS has been communicating closely with Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), as well as other leading regulators, including the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), on the safety issues of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.  Even as investigations into what caused the crash are ongoing, Boeing has decided to introduce a design change to the aircraft’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, as soon as it gets the go-ahead from the FAA and other leading aviation regulators. CAAS is closely monitoring this, and will ensure that SilkAir incorporates the fix once it is available.

4.     With the suspension, SilkAir’s fleet of six Boeing 737 Max aircraft have been grounded. SilkAir had to cancel or adjust some flights, affecting about 300 passengers a day. These passengers have been offered either refunds or the option to be rebooked on other flights. If the suspension continues, more flights may be cancelled.  SIA does not have the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

5.     Four foreign airlines were also operating the Boeing 737 Max aircraft to Singapore. As they have limited services to Singapore, they have been able to maintain normal operations using other aircraft types, except Shandong Airlines.  The latter has had to suspend its operations to Singapore.  

6.     CAAS will continue to work with the Changi Airport Group, SIA and SilkAir and other affected airlines to minimise the impact on passengers.