SINGAPORE: The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is looking into ways to enhance the sharing of safety and security information among national aviation authorities and airlines, following the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 over eastern Ukraine, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said on Monday (Aug 4).

The minister was responding to parliamentary questions posed by several MPs and Nominated MPs about how Singapore carriers plan their flight routes, whether they flew over the same airspace in Ukraine as MH17, and how the Government exercises oversight over the carriers in their flight planning.

“As the regulatory authority, the CAAS requires Singapore carriers to put in place a robust flight planning process to ensure the safe operations of flights,” Mr Lui said, adding that CAAS conducts audits and checks on airlines’ compliance with procedural and organisational requirements.

“SIA, as part of its safety assessment process, has proactively avoided overflying certain conflict areas even if the airways were available for use,” he said. For example, in early March, SIA adjusted its flight routings to avoid the airspace above Crimea based on its own safety assessments.

But like many airlines plying between Europe and Asia, Singapore Airlines was flying in the same airspace as MH17, with SQ351 about 90km away, said Mr Lui. “As soon as SIA received news of the incident, they immediately re-routed all their flights to avoid Ukrainian airspace entirely,” he said.

Following the MH17 crash, the aviation authority has also requested Singapore carriers review their risk assessment of flight operations over conflict areas, Mr Lui said. CAAS will also “participate actively” in the international community’s review of issues facing civilian aircraft operating to, from and over conflict areas.

“The downing of flight MH17 is a horrific tragedy. It should never happen again,” Mr Lui said. “As a nation, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our neighbours and express our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims.”

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