SilkAir has delivered one of its six Boeing 737 MAX 8s to Alice Springs for storage as the global grounding of the type stretches into a seventh month.
The 737 MAX 8 9V-MBA landed at Alice Springs a little after 1030 local time on Monday following its near six-hour journey from Singapore as MI 8880, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.
SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, has six 737 MAX 8s in its fleet. The aircraft have been in storage at Singapore’s Changi Airport since the type was grounded following the fatal crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302 in March 2019.
The tragic accident followed a crash involving a 737 MAX 8 operated by Lion Air in October 2018. An anti-stall software installed on the 737 MAX has been implicated in both incidents.
Boeing has been working on a software update to the 737 MAX’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) and has said previously it expected regulators to clear the aircraft to return to service before the end of calendar 2019.
The 737 MAX was given the green light to fly to Australia for storage after the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) amended regulations that had prohibited its operation following the global grounding of the type.
CASA’s temporary regulations, introduced in late September, allowed for the 737 MAX to be flown as an “authorised flight” for the next six months.
The regulations defined an authorised flight as a “non-passenger carrying flight” conducted by an aircraft that was approved to conduct the flight by the national aviation authority of the state of registry of the aircraft and not for a commercial purpose.
Further, the purpose of the flight was for storage of the aircraft; production flight testing of the aircraft; repairs or alterations to the aircraft; or maintenance of the aircraft.
Also, the flight had to be authorised in writing by CASA and “not be likely to have an adverse effect on the safety of air navigation”.
The SilkAir 737 MAX 9V-MBA has been be stored at the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) facility in Alice Springs, which was established in 2011.
APAS managing director Tom Vincent told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) the SilkAir 737 MAX 8 has been placed into long-term storage.
“Our engineers immediately today started for preserving aircraft for the storage program,” Vincent said. “That process will take approximately five days on this aircraft.”
“The reality at the moment is no one has a firm timetable for the aircraft to go back into service.”
Vincent said Alice Springs represented ideal conditions for keeping the aircraft in good condition, with the dry air helping minimise corrosion and other issues that adversely affected the aircraft.
VIDEO: A news report on the arrival of SilkAir Boeing 737 MAX 8 9V-MBA at Alice Springs from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s YouTube channel.