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SilkAir cleared to move 737 Max fleet to Alice Springs

Australia’s civil aviation safety authorities have given Singaporean carrier SilkAir the go-ahead to move its grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft from Singapore to Alice Springs for storage.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) states in a notice put up on 23 September evening that it has repealed a temporary prohibition of 737 Max operations in Australian airspace.

This comes after CASA confirmed FlightGlobal’s queries that SilkAir applied to move its 737 Max aircraft to the outback town of Alice Springs for long-term storage.

The Singapore Airlines subsidiary has six 737 Max 8s, Cirium’s fleets data reveals.

In the notice, CASA states that the aircraft can only be operated on an “authorised flight” — for “non-commercial” purposes such as for flight testing, storage, maintenance or repairs.

The flight will also be operating without its manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system (MCAS), the software that has been implicated in two fatal 737 Max crashes.

SilkAir will have a six-month window to move the aircraft to Alice Springs for storage, as the CASA notice indicates that the repeal is now in force, and will expire after six months.

The carrier’s plan to store the Max was first reported by the Financial Times, which said SilkAir and Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage have struck a deal to have the 737s stored at the latter’s Alice Springs facility.

Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage managing director Tom Vincent declined to comment on the SilkAir move, but would only say that his company is "in discussion" with a number of airline customers with regard to storing the 737 Max aircraft.

The Boeing 737 Max is the subject of an ongoing worldwide grounding following the 10 March crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 and the October 2018 crash of a Lion Air aircraft of the same type. Those crashes killed a combined 346 people.

While efforts are being made to get the narrowbody back into the skies, there are no clear indications when this might take place.

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