The first of six Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes — the model grounded after two crashes which killed 346 people — has touched down in Alice Springs for storage.
- The planes are being moved to the airport for “long-term storage” after two deadly 737 MAX 8 crashes in the space of five months
- For aircraft storage, airlines prefer Alice Springs’ dry conditions to Asia’s “corrosive” humidity
- Engineers in Alice Springs will ultimately work to “recertify” and “reactivate” the aircraft under their care
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has given clearance for six Silk Air 737 MAX aircraft to be moved to the plane graveyard at Alice Springs Airport, so they can be stored safely during Singapore’s tropical wet season.
In March 2019 airlines around the world grounded their 737 MAX 8s after two deadly crashes.
A Lion Air flight crashed into the Java Sea on October 29, 2018, just 13 minutes after taking off, killing all 189 people on board.
Just under five months later, an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed, again leaving no survivors from the 149 passengers and eight crew members on board.
The aircraft which arrived in Alice Springs yesterday morning had previously been at Changi, Singapore, for six months after the March grounding.
Tom Vincent, managing director of Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS), the company responsible for maintaining the aircraft in Alice Springs, said the MAX 8s had been moved for “long-term storage”.
“Climactic conditions all throughout Asia are not suitable for long-term storage of aircraft,” he said.
“The aircraft are being positioned here due to the climactic conditions in Alice Springs — predominantly a low-humidity environment.
“It’s ideal conditions for preserving the asset of the aircraft … minimising corrosion and other issues.”
Infamous aircraft to undergo ‘intensive’ work
Mr Vincent said APAS was ultimately working to “recertify” and “reactivate” the MAX 8 aircraft under its care.
He said APAS engineers had already “started preserving the aircraft”.
“Once the aircraft has been recertified and capable to return to service we will undertake another significant amount of work to reactivate the aircraft,” he said.
“We will also be working to incorporate the mandated fixes required to recertify the aircraft.”
Boeing facing legal battle
In the wake of the deadly crashes, more than 400 pilots joined a class action against Boeing, seeking damages and alleging the company participated in an “unprecedented cover-up” of the aircraft’s “known design flaws”.
The claim brought against Boeing hinges on the controversial addition of an automated piece of software known as the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
A US government report released last Thursday found Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) misjudged how pilots would respond to multiple alerts and alarms as they encountered trouble when flying the aircraft.
Preliminary reports into the Ethiopian Airlines crash found the flight experienced “nose dive conditions”, and pilots followed proper guidance but could not control the doomed jetliner.
Boeing announced last week it would pay the families of the 346 people killed in the crashes $US144,500 ($213,820) each from a $US50 million financial assistance fund.