Singapore Airlines' SilkAir sends its 737 MAX jets to Alice Springs storage facility

Singapore Airlines's SilkAir has relocated the first of its six Boeing 737 Max aircraft to central Australia for storage, as the global grounding of the jet continues following two deadly crashes within the past 12 months.

Boeing pilots flew the aircraft to Alice Springs on Monday, Singapore Airlines said in an emailed statement. 

SilkAir has provided flight plans and received clearance for the first aircraft to arrive in Alice Springs, central Australia, on Monday, according to Peter Gibson, a spokesman at the Australian government's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

The aircraft was flown by experienced Boeing pilots using a "flight profile which ensures there can be no activation of MCAS," Gibson said in an email, referring to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System feature linked to the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.

The pilots have also received training in recovery actions in case an MCAS-related event occurs, Gibson said. CASA has worked closely with aviation regulators in Singapore and Indonesia to review and coordinate the ferry flights, he said.

A Singapore Airlines representative said the company doesn't have information to share about the matter at this point.

It is still unclear when the Max 737 will resume scheduled flights as investigations by various authorities around the world are ongoing. CASA said it is following flight profiles for ferrying the aircraft in the US, Canada and Europe. In one California facility, the cost of storage runs to about $US2000 ($A2900) a month for a plane, according to an industry veteran.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed a senior Boeing engineer filed an internal ethics complaint this year saying that during the development of the 737 Max jet the company had rejected a safety system to minimise costs, equipment that he felt could have reduced risks that contributed to two fatal crashes.

Boeing has provided the complaint, which was reviewed by The New York Times, to the Department of Justice as part of a criminal investigation into the design of the Max, according to a person with knowledge of the inquiry who requested anonymity given the ongoing legal matter. Federal investigators have questioned at least one former Boeing employee about the allegations, said another person with knowledge of the discussions who similarly requested anonymity.


It is unclear what, if any, assessment investigators have made of the complaint.

The complaint, filed after the two crashes, builds on concerns about Boeing's corporate culture, as the company tries to repair its reputation and get the planes flying again.

Many current and former Boeing employees have privately discussed problems with the design and decision-making process on the 737 Max, outlining episodes when managers dismissed engineers' recommendations or prioritised profits. The engineer who filed the ethics concerns this year, Curtis Ewbank, went a step further, lodging a formal complaint and calling out the chief executive for publicly misrepresenting the safety of the plane.


See also: Pushed to the limit: Airline's plan for 15-hour flights with narrow-body Airbus

See also: Where have all the Boeing 737 Max aircraft gone?