Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has temporarily banned Boeing 737 Max aircraft from operating to and from Australia.
CASA chief executive and director of aviation safety Shane Carmody says the suspension is in the best interest of safety following the 29 October 2018 crash of Lion Air flight JT610, and the 10 March accident involving Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 – both of which were operated by 737 Max 8s.
“This is a temporary suspension while we wait for more information to review the safety risks of continued operations of the Boeing 737 MAX to and from Australia,” says Carmody.
“CASA regrets any inconvenience to passengers but believes it is important to always put safety first.”
Cirium schedules data shows that SilkAir and Fiji Airways are the only carriers that operate scheduled services to Australia using Max 8s. Virgin Australia has 30 737 Max aircraft on order, but is not scheduled to take delivery of its first of the type until November.
SilkAir has already suspended the operation of its six Max 8s after the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore imposed a grounding on the type at 14:00 local time on 12 March. That ban also extended to foreign carriers flying Max jets into Singapore.
CASA says that it is working with Fiji Airways to minimise the disruption, which may affect its services from Nadi to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.
Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer shows that the Fijian carrier has two Max 8s in its fleet, plus two -800s and one -700. Two more -800s are showing as stored – one at Nadi and the other in San Bernadino.
CASA adds that it is closely monitoring the situation and will review relevant safety information as it becomes available.
China became the first jurisdiction to ground Max on 11 March following the fatal crash of flight ET302 the day prior, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew on board.
Indonesia has ordered Max jets there to be grounded for additional inspections, while a number of other operators in Asia, Africa and Latin America have voluntarily grounded their aircraft.
The US Federal Aviation Administration stated on 11 March that it had not received evidence enough to warrant grounding 737 Max jets in service with carriers there.