Singapore and Australia’s aviation authorities have temporarily banned Boeing 737 Max aircraft from flying into and out of their countries.
The decision comes after an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing Max 8 crashed on Sunday, killing 157 people on board.
It was the second fatal accident involving that model in less than five months.
Singapore’s Changi Airport is the world’s sixth busiest and a major hub connecting Asia to Europe and the United states. But only a handful of airlines operate Max aircraft in and out of the country.
No Australian airlines operate the Boeing 737 Max, and only two foreign airlines – Silk Air and Fiji Airways – fly the model into the country.
Shane Carmody, who is in charge of aviation safety at Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority, said the suspension would remain in place while the organisation waits “for more information to review the safety risks”.
Several airlines and regulators around the world have already grounded the Max 8 model following the crash.
South Korea has asked Eastar Jet, the only airline in the country to own Max 8s, to ground its planes from Wednesday, while Malaysia has banned the jets from its airspace, according to reports.
Singapore’s aviation authority said the affected airlines include Silk Air, which operates six Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, as well as China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air.
In the US, the country’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told airlines on Monday, ‘it believes Boeing’s 737 Max 8 model to be airworthy, despite the two fatal crashes.’
Southwest, which has the largest fleet of 737s in the US, said it was offering customers who had booked flights using the jet the chance to change their reservation, but would not be offering refunds.
Rival American Airlines said its “standard policies for changes still apply”.
Boeing 737 Max aircraft
The Boeing 737 Max fleets of aircraft are the latest in the company’s successful 737 line. The group includes the Max 7, 8, 9 and 10 models.
By the end of January, Boeing had delivered 350 of the Max 8 model out of 5,011 orders. A small number of Max 9s are also operating.
The Max 7 and 10 models, not yet delivered, are due for roll-out in the next few years.
The Max 8 that crashed on Sunday was one of 30 ordered as part of Ethiopian Airlines’ expansion. ’’It underwent rigorous first check maintenance’’ on 4 February, a representative of the airline said.
Following last October’s Lion Air crash in Indonesia, investigators said the pilots had appeared to struggle with an automated system designed to keep the plane from stalling, a new feature of the jet.
It is not yet clear whether the anti-stall system was the cause of Sunday’s crash. Aviation experts say other technical issues or human error cannot be discounted.
Eyewitnesses say they saw a trail of smoke, sparks and debris as the plane nosedived.