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Singapore, Australia ban Boeing 737 MAX

The number of countries grounding Boeing’s MAX 8 after Sunday’s disaster is increasing, but Icelandair and Norwegian have confidence in the model.

Singapore and Australia have taken the step of banning the use of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in their airspace following Sunday’s air disaster in Ethiopia.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore says it is “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”.

The ruling came into effect from 14:00 local time. It includes Singapore Airlines regional wing SilkAir, which operates six 737 MAX aircraft.

Other airlines flying the model to the Asian city state and global hub include China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air.

The authority says it is working with the airlines and with Changi Airport to minimise any effect on passengers.

A few hours later, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority followed suit with a temporary suspension to allow it to review the risks, saying this would be in the best interests of safety.

Airlines’ reactions
Other developments include the South Korean airline Eastar Jet suspending flights with its two Boeing 737 MAX 8s from Wednesday, replacing them with Boeing 737-800s.

China, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Cayman Islands have already ordered their countries’ airlines to suspend MAX 8 flights. Airlines taking the same step are Gol in Brazil, Argentina’s Aerolineas Argentinas, Mexico’s Aeromexico and India’s Jet Airways.

Turkish Airlines, Air Italy, Oman Air and Russia’s S7 say they closely monitoring the investigation into the latest crash and are in contact with Boeing.

But Jens Thordarson, head of operations at Icelandair, says it is “premature” to link the crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia and “nothing pushes us towards the slightest action” to ground its three Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

The Ethiopian Airlines MAX 8 fell to the ground at high speed shortly after take-off, killing all 157 people on board. This occurred just a few months after a Lion Air plane of the same model crashed in similar circumstances in Indonesia, killing 189 people.

US regulators have ordered Boeing to make urgent improvements to the aircraft type.

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