Canada’s airline, tourism sectors facing ‘catastrophic’ decline due to COVID-19 pandemic

News provided by CBC News – link to story and updates

Airline lobby group warns that, without aid, companies will fold and thousands more will be laid off

John Paul Tasker · CBC News · Posted: Apr 01, 2020

An Air Canada employee works at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Friday, March 20, 2020. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

As Canada’s aviation and tourism sectors face a decline of epic proportions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government is preparing an aid package to save an industry that employs well over 2 million Canadians.

The lobby group that represents dozens of air carriers in this country is warning that, without immediate support from Ottawa, airlines will fold, thousands more will be out of work and the travel landscape in this country will be crippled for the foreseeable future.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said help is on the way — but it can’t come soon enough for an industry bleeding cash.

“We recognize there are certain industries that have been extremely hard hit by both the drop in oil prices and the COVID-19 challenge, whether it’s airlines or oil and gas or tourism,” Trudeau told reporters Tuesday when asked about the prospect of support.

“There are significant areas where we’re going to have to do more. And as I’ve said from the very beginning, we will be doing more.”

Airports across the country are virtually empty as travellers heed the warnings of public health officials to stay home and avoid all non-essential international and domestic travel to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

“The impact of all this is just devastating. People aren’t flying at all or capacity is at 10, 15 per cent. Nobody can sustain that for very much longer, that’s for sure,” John McKenna, president of the Air Transport Association of Canada, told CBC News.

“We’re eagerly awaiting an aviation-specific plan but we haven’t heard anything. We have no idea what’s coming.”

A Porter Airlines plane lands next to a taxiing aircraft at Toronto’s Island Airport. Porter Airlines says it is temporarily suspending all flights as part of the public health effort to contain COVID-19. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

His organization represents both large and small airlines, including Porter — which has grounded its entire operation— leisure carrier Sunwing and more than a dozen regional operators that serve rural and remote communities.

McKenna said that some carriers won’t make it through this crisis. He warned that the damage to the industry will only increase while it waits for the federal government to act.

‘Help us out here’

He said the promised wage subsidies for all businesses will help but his organization is also looking for interest-free loans to provide carriers with some much-needed capital.

He’s also asking that certain government fees and surcharges be waived so the companies can stay afloat. He asked that planned changes to the Canada Labour Code — including new rules for rest periods — be deferred to lessen the regulatory burden.

“Give us a break on everything else while we concentrate on surviving. Help us out here,” McKenna said.

He said some airlines were already in “dire straits” before COVID-19 hit, as carriers had to park their Boeing 737 MAX jets while still paying purchase agreement loans. The 737 Max was grounded worldwide a year ago after an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed outside of the capital Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people onboard.

The blanket travel ban means some debt-laden companies will shutter operations altogether.

“You’re telling people not to fly. You can’t just leave us hanging like that,” McKenna said.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced Tuesday that Ottawa would be waiving rent payments for 21 of the country’s airports between March and December 2020.

In Canada, most major airports are operated by independent, non-profit authorities, but the land on which these airports sit is still owned by the federal government. With fewer people flying and paying fees, making the rent is a challenge.

Morneau said the rental reprieve recognizes that the air transportation industry has “suffered tremendously.”

That measure will save airport authorities about $331 million a year in rent payments. But that does little for the national and regional air carriers that fly through them.

“I’d be surprised if we saw any of that,” McKenna said.

A passenger makes her way to the check-in at Trudeau International Airport Monday, March 30, 2020 in Montreal. The federal government is waiving the monthly rent paid by airport authorities to Ottawa for the rest of the year as revenues plummet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Larger air carriers like Air Canada and Air Transat have been pressed into service to rescue Canadians stranded abroad by travel restrictions driven by the pandemic’s spread, but revenue from other operations has all but evaporated.

Air Canada, one of the world’s largest airlines, is in the midst of a system-wide shutdown that will result in a stunning 85 to 90 per cent reduction in capacity compared to the same period last year. Starting today, dozens of flights to the U.S. or international destinations will be grounded.

Nearly 17,000 of its employees have been temporarily laid off as the airline tries to protect its balance sheet and avoid bankruptcy. Beyond a few “air bridges” to locations overseas, Air Canada is a fraction of the size it was only a month ago. The company’s share price has declined by some 70 per cent from its high in January.

“To furlough such a large proportion of our employees is an extremely painful decision but one we are required to take given our dramatically smaller operations for the next while,” said Calin Rovinescu, president and CEO of Air Canada.

WestJet, the country’s second largest carrier, has also halted all international operations and is running some of its domestic flights with greatly reduced capacity at a time when demand has never been lower.

WestJet has laid off 7,000 employees and has cancelled virtually all planned capital investments for the year.

“This is devastating news for all WestJetters,” said Ed Sims, WestJet president and CEO, in a statement to reporters announcing the layoffs.

‘It’s the pits’

Major hotels, like Ottawa’s iconic Château Laurier, have temporarily closed while others are welcoming fewer than a dozen guests each night.

Tony Elenis, president of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, said hotels are dealing with “a catastrophic” drop in business.

“It’s the pits,” Elenis said.

Some hotels have been asked by provincial health authorities to house some patients in the future as hospital capacity becomes increasingly limited, but the rates will be lower than what they could get from a regular traveller, Elenis said.

Regardless, it could be a much-needed source of revenue at a time when properties sit vacant, he said.

A man jogs past the Chateau Laurier hotel in Ottawa. The hotel announced it will temporarily suspend operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, said Tuesday that governments across the country are readying hotel rooms and other “alternative sites” to house non-COVID-19 patients or those with milder symptoms.

Quebec already has rented out a Quality Inn in Laval, Que. for this very purpose, with other sites expected to come online soon as the province grapples with the country’s largest caseload.

“We’re gearing up to accommodate patients. All of us should be working in any way we can to support those who are getting rid of this virus. A lot of hotel managers really want to support this,” Elenis said.

Tourism Minister Mélanie Joly did not respond to requests for comment. 

Air Canada cancels order for 11 Boeing 737 Max jets amid ongoing questions

News provided by CTV News – link to full story and updates

The Canadian Press Staff Published Wednesday, March 11, 2020Boeing 737 Max

An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max aircraft arriving from Toronto prepares to land at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on Tuesday, March 12, 2019.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

MONTREAL — Air Canada is cancelling an order for 11 Boeing 737 Max aircraft amid ongoing questions about the safety of the grounded jet.

Canada’s largest airline says it recently cut back on a 2013 deal to buy 61 of the beleaguered planes, reducing the total to 50.

Despite the cancellation, Air Canada says it is “fully committed” to the Max and that the move reflects “evolving, long-term fleet planning requirements.”

The Canadian government and countries around the world banned the 737 Max from the skies last year following two crashes in five months that killed all 346 people on board, including 18 Canadians.

The grounding has pushed back the expected delivery of the remaining 26 jets on the order book for Air Canada until well into next year. The aircraft were initially slated to be on the tarmac by this summer.

Boeing Co. reported Wednesday that it logged more commercial aircraft cancellations than new orders last month, marking a bleak start to the year for the manufacturer already reeling from two fatal crashes of its best-selling plane.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2020.

Garneau pledges to overhaul aircraft validation procedures a year after Boeing 737 Max disasters

News provided by The Globe and Mail – link to full story and updates

GRANT ROBERTSON FEBRUARY 16, 2020

Regulators from around the world are now determining whether the Max should be allowed to fly again. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The federal government is preparing key changes to the way commercial aircraft are vetted in Canada, moves that will give Transport Canada more independence to scrutinize new planes in the wake of the Boeing 737 Max disasters.

Additional requirements, such as independent test flights of all new aircraft by Canadian officials, will be implemented to give Transport Canada more oversight control. The aircraft approval process has long seen countries around the world rely heavily on the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to inspect and certify Boeing planes.

That system has come under intense criticism after the newly introduced 737 Max plummeted to the ground twice, killing everyone aboard. The first crash, in Indonesia, killed 189 people in late 2018. The second, less than five months later, killed 157 people – including 18 Canadians – last March in Ethiopia. Flawed software that forced the aircraft into nosedives has been found to be at fault in both disasters.

An investigation by The Globe and Mail in December showed how Transport Canada relied heavily on the FAA to scrutinize the plane, while the U.S. regulator relinquished much of its oversight to Boeing’s own engineers. This created troubling blind spots for Transport Canada that went overlooked, particularly since the FAA failed to properly evaluate the software.

The Globe investigation detailed how Canada signed off on 71 design changes to the 737 Max, but information on the faulty software was not included in the material Transport Canada was given by the FAA.

“We are making changes to improve the rigour of our validation system,” Amy Butcher, a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Marc Garneau, said in an e-mail to The Globe this weekend.

The changes are still being formulated, she said, but will include independent test flights conducted by Canadian authorities on all new planes. Such steps will give the department a more active role in aircraft certification, rather than just verifying the work of the FAA, as was done in the past, and could help prevent similar blind spots in oversight.

Further changes are expected after Canada concludes an international joint investigation into the 737 Max disasters, and will be announced once they are finalized, Ms. Butcher said.

The changes won’t be limited to the 737 Max and will have implications for how all commercial airliners are scrutinized. The process is designed to build layers of checks and balances into the relationship between Canada and the FAA.

“These new practices will continue moving forward and also evolve as we continue to review the system as a whole,” Ms. Butcher said.

It is the first time that the government has signalled changes to its system of oversight since the disasters, which have seen the 737 Max grounded since last March. For decades, countries around the world have allowed the FAA to take the lead on certifying Boeing planes, since it was considered the gold standard of aviation regulation. Regulators such as those in Canada and Europe mostly came in at the end of the process to verify the FAA’s work.

But Congressional hearings in the United States have exposed a deeply flawed system at the FAA, where Boeing was given increasing power to regulate itself since the early 2000s. In the case of the 737 Max, Boeing was in a race with its European rival, Airbus, and worried that the new software designed to stabilize the plane during flight would trigger regulators to require expensive simulator training for pilots. That might dissuade airlines from buying the 737 Max, so Boeing played down the software to the FAA.

Regulators from around the world are now determining whether the Max should be allowed to fly again, and what changes would have to be made before that can happen. Transport Canada will not allow the plane to return until it has independently flight tested the new version of the Max itself.

“Transport Canada will conduct its own flight testing after the FAA completes their own,” Ms. Butcher said. “Our test pilots, along with Canadian pilots who fly the MAX, will participate in the Joint Operations Evaluation Board that will evaluate the training that will be required for pilots flying the MAX should it return to service.”

Boeing thought the plane would be back in the air last summer after it rewrote the software, but the return has been delayed several times as regulators look at whether the system can be patched or if it should be stripped from the aircraft.

Ottawa’s decision to bolster its aircraft-validation system is one of several moves Transport Canada has made in the past two months that have changed the department’s course on the 737 Max.

After The Globe revealed that families of the 18 Canadian victims had not been granted a meeting with Mr. Garneau, despite numerous pleas to his office since early last summer, the minister agreed to meet with them last week. During that discussion, Mr. Garneau offered an apology for taking 11 months to speak with them.

The families presented Mr. Garneau with 14 pages of questions about Canada’s approval of the 737 Max, including its decision not to ground the plane immediately after the second crash last March, as other countries did. Canada delayed four days, and internal documents obtained by The Globe showed that the government waited for input from the U.S. before making its decision.

Mr. Garneau also agreed that the families would be allowed to testify at coming public hearings in Ottawa that will look into Canada’s scrutiny of the 737 Max. The families, who have only been allowed to meet with Transport Canada in private, are seeking a public process, saying the matter is too important for Canadians.

The government blocked a bid for public hearings last year, with the Liberal majority on the Transport Committee defeating the proposal 5-3 in a vote. However, with the government no longer holding a majority on the committee, it is expected that those hearings will now proceed as early as this spring.

Canada allowed grounded Boeing 737 Max jets to fly — without passengers — at least 160 times

News provided by CBC News – link to full story and updates

WATCH: Link to video

Airlines can get permission to fly if ‘very strict conditions’ met

Ashley Burke · CBC News · Posted: Feb 03, 2020

Canada grounded Boeing 737 Max planes in March following 2 deadly crashes. Transport Canada is making exceptions for ferry flights for maintenance, storage or training purposes. None of these flights are allowed to carry passengers. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Canada has allowed at least 160 flights to criss-cross North America using Boeing 737 Max jets since grounding the fleet for commercial use almost a year ago. 

Transport Minister Marc Garneau banned the planes from Canada’s airspace in March after two crashes within five months in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people, including 18 Canadians. Satellite data showed both planes experienced significant flight control problems. Garneau said he won’t lift restrictions on the planes until all of Canada’s safety concerns have been addressed. 

CBC News analyzed flight data that shows Canadian airlines have continued to fly the jets for the past 11 months, often multiple times a week. The flights include four hours in the air over Canada from Windsor to Vancouver and shorter hauls such as Montreal to Trois-Rivières, Que., and Abbotsford, B.C., to Calgary.

Transport Canada said no passengers were on board any of the flights. The department said it has been allowing Air Canada, WestJet and Sunwing to fly the planes for maintenance, storage, or pilot training under certain conditions. Only certain pilots with specialized training and briefings of the 737 Max are allowed to operate the aircraft.

The flights came as a shock to some families in Canada whose loved ones died on a 737 Max.

“It feels like a slap in the face,” said Chris Moore who lost his 24-year-old daughter in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. “Your loved one has died due to that plane and they’re still gearing up for the day when it’s ungrounded.”

Paul Njoroge, who lost his wife, 3 children and mother-in-law on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. (Njoroge family)

Paul Njoroge lost his wife, three young children, and mother-in-law in that same crash. He’s also concerned for the safety of the pilots in the air and Canadians on the ground.

“It’s shocking to me that they are still flying,” said Njoroge. “It just tells me that these people will never stop playing or juggling with human life.” 

“You cannot say it’s not safe for passengers, but still allow the plane to fly. If you’ve grounded the plane, it has to remain grounded.”

‘Ferry flights’ exempted

When Garneau banned the jets on March 13, the notice to airmen stated it was “necessary for the protection of aviation safety and the public.” But the notice also made exemptions for “ferry flights” that take off or land in Canada. 

CBC News pulled data from flight tracking website FlightRadar24 to see where Canadian 737 Max planes have been spotted in the skies since grounded.

An analysis reveals that Air Canada has been flying its Boeing 737 Max fleet the most often. Between March 14 and Jan. 16, Air Canada flew 121 times, in comparison to 29 times for WestJet and 12 for Sunwing.

In at least 27 instances, Air Canada took off or landed in Marana, Ariz. In some cases, flying more than five hours straight.

“Those aircraft movements were required for maintenance purposes, including to relocate them to the southern desert where they can be stored more safely,” said Air Canada in a statement to CBC News. 

Air Canada also said it’s using the ferry flights as an opportunity to keep pilot certifications current for those who train frontline pilots.

Watch

Flight data shows 160 Boeing 737 Max flights

  • 20 hours ago
  • 0:18

737 Max aircraft flew across Canada and the U.S. 0:18

WestJet said its ferry flights were for maintenance and storage space. Sunwing said it proactively grounded its fleet before Canada made it mandatory. Since then, the airline confirmed it moved several 737 Max aircraft from large, busy airports to outside storage facilities. 

“We approach these necessary transfers with an abundance of caution, conducting thorough risk assessments and only using senior pilots who were briefed on responses to any potential anomalies. All these flights operated without incident,” said Sunwing in a statement. 

Flights must be approved, follow ‘very strict conditions’

Transport Canada said in order for ferry flights to be approved, airlines must follow “very strict conditions”: 

  • Only advanced pilot evaluators are allowed to fly.
  • Pilots must get specialized briefings and training including on a 737 Max simulator.
  • Additional crew is on board all flights and a mandatory third pilot.
  • They can only fly in certain weather conditions.

Larry Vance, former Transportation Safety Board aviation crash investigator, said he has no concerns with the 737 Max flying under this criteria.

“These are not flying bombs about to explode,” said Vance. “They’re not gonna start dropping out of the sky on people. These are very safe airplanes flown under those conditions. 

“They’re only flown by the best of the pilots with briefings. Anything that might go wrong with the airplane they know how to handle it.”

Vance added that planes are like cars — if left idle they deteriorate, and need to be in the air to stay in top shape.

Victims’ families meeting with transport minister

That doesn’t comfort Moore and Njoroge, who question why the planes can’t be restored for service if and when Canada declares them safe for passengers. 

“That tells you a lot about the regulatory authorities promoting the industry instead of promoting safety, instead of safeguarding the lives of human beings.” said Njoroge.

“I don’t understand why they would use that as an excuse to fly,” said Moore.

Families of the Ethiopian Airlines crash victims say they are meeting with Garneau on Feb.12. Njoroge plans on asking Garneau to keep the planes on the ground — no exemptions.

Canada is continuing to independently review and validate changes to the Boeing 737 Max.

Transport Canada has four areas of concern that it wants addressed before the fleet can return to service including: acceptable levels of pilot workload, architecture of the flight controls, minimum training required for crew members, and aircraft performance, according to Garneau’s briefing binder obtained through an access to information request. 

“I certainly understand how the families feel,” Garneau said today, commenting on the story before entering the Commons chamber.

“We look at every single one of these ferry flights very carefully, where it’s going to go and who’s going to be on board and what training and preparation they’ve had before we accept and doing it.”

“I want to tell everybody that we’re not going to put these planes back into Canadian skies to fly passengers until we’re 100 per cent satisfied.

Air Canada Provides Update on Boeing 737 MAX Operations

Provided by Air Canada/CNW

MONTREAL, Jan. 22, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada today said that it has now removed the Boeing 737 MAX from its operating schedule until June 30, 2020. The decision is based on operational considerations following an announcement by Boeing Co. that it now estimates the 737 MAX will remain grounded by regulators until mid-2020.

Air Canada is removing the Boeing 737 MAX from its operating scheduled to provide customers certainty when planning and booking their travel. It will also allow the airline to manage its schedule and fleet most effectively as it awaits decisions by Canadian and international regulators on returning the 737 MAX safely into service. Customers affected by these changes will be advised of their new itineraries and offered suitable travel options.

In compliance with a safety notice closing Canadian airspace issued by Transport Canada on March 13, 2019, Air Canada grounded its fleet of 24 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Final decisions on returning the 737 MAX to service will be based on Air Canada’s safety assessment following the lifting of government safety notices and requisite approvals by the FAA and Transport Canada. 

WestJet statement on Boeing 737 MAX

Provided by WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership/CNW

Airline adjusts schedule through June 24

CALGARY, Jan. 21, 2020 /CNW/ – Following Boeing’s announcement regarding the 737-MAX aircraft, WestJet today announced it will be updating its schedule to remove the aircraft through to June 24, 2020. Any affected guests will be proactively contacted once work is complete.

“We thank our guests for their patience and our WestJetters for their commitment to keeping our airline moving safely and on time as we continue to adjust our schedule,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “We remain confident in the regulatory process undertaken by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and Transport Canada to ensure the safe return of the aircraft.”

WestJet has completed more than 98 per cent of its planned departures even while its 13 MAX aircraft remain on the ground.

WestJet strengthens Atlantic gateway with new Halifax-Manchester service

Provided by Westjet, an Alberta Partnership/CNW

Airline announces additional route connecting Eastern Canada to the United Kingdom

CALGARY, Jan. 17, 2020 /CNW/ – Today, WestJet is forging another connection across the Atlantic into the United Kingdom with the announcement of new non-stop service between Halifax, N.S., and Manchester U.K. beginning June 5, 2020. This summer, WestJet will operate more than 300 seasonal departures from Halifax to London (Gatwick) and Glasgow, Scotland.

WestJet strengthens Atlantic gateway with new Halifax-Manchester service (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
WestJet strengthens Atlantic gateway with new Halifax-Manchester service (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
WestJet’s seasonal service between Halifax Stanfield (YHZ) and Manchester Airport (MAN) will operate four-times weekly on the airline’s Boeing 737-700. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
WestJet’s seasonal service between Halifax Stanfield (YHZ) and Manchester Airport (MAN) will operate four-times weekly on the airline’s Boeing 737-700. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

“WestJet is continuing to invest in our Atlantic gateway, connecting Nova Scotia to the world and the world to Nova Scotia in new ways,” said Charles Duncan, WestJet Chief Strategy Officer. “The U.K. is Nova Scotia’s largest in-bound tourism market and our newest investment connects the province to new sources of tourists.”

“WestJet’s addition of another European connection strengthens the Atlantic Gateway and will help grow our economy. It will lead to more trade and investment opportunities, as well as help attract more students, immigrants, and visitors to Nova Scotia and the entire Atlantic region,” said Premier Stephen McNeil.

Manchester Airport is considered the global gateway to northern England and offers easy access to and from its historic city centre.  With its evolved industrial heritage, the city is perfect for exploring thanks to its culture, love of football, restaurants and pubs. In addition, WestJet guests will have 16 more destinations to choose from out of Manchester on Virgin Connect, one of the largest regional carriers in Europe.

WestJet’s seasonal service between Halifax Stanfield (YHZ) and Manchester Airport (MAN) will operate four-times weekly on the airline’s Boeing 737-700. Flights are timed for convenient connectivity across WestJet’s network into and out of Halifax.

WestJet has served Halifax since 2003 and has seen 300 per cent growth in flights to and from Halifax Stanfield and now serves 16 cities with an average of 60 daily inbound and outbound flights per day from Halifax.

Details of WestJet’s service between Halifax and Manchester, U.K.:

RouteFrequencyDepartingArrivingEffective
Halifax-
Manchester
Four-times
weekly
10:45 p.m.8:10 a.m. (+1)June 5, 2020-
October 24,
2020
Manchester-
Halifax
Four-times
weekly
9:45 a.m.11:52 a.m.June 6, 2020-
October 24,
2020

WestJet is also proud to partner with Discover Halifax and Halifax International Airport Authority on its Stopover Halifax program. The program opens the door for arriving and connecting passengers at Halifax Stanfield to experience more of the city by booking it as a stopover from seven hours to seven days at no additional airfare.

Additional Quotes:
“I applaud WestJet for opening new routes through Halifax to the United Kingdom,” said Kody Blois, Member of Parliament, Kings-Hants. “This new seasonal service will help draw additional tourists to the province and further drive economic growth in the region. Stanfield International Airport itself is a major employer in our local community that will directly benefit from this significant investment by the airline.

“This exciting new direct flight to Manchester will further open the Halifax skies to tourists, business and more than a few soccer fans,” said Mike Savage, Mayor of Halifax Regional Municipality. “Whatever their ultimate travel destination, we welcome visitors arriving from Manchester to take full advantage of their time in Halifax and Nova Scotia.”

“We’re thrilled to add Manchester to a growing list of European cities connected by non-stop service at Halifax Stanfield,” said Joyce Carter, President & CEO, Halifax International Airport Authority. “WestJet continues to be a great partner who supports the development of our East Coast Hub, providing more choice to our passengers. We look forward to welcoming the first visitors on this new service later this year with our unique Maritime hospitality.”

“It’s great to start 2020 with the news that WestJet will be commencing direct services to Manchester Airport from Halifax,” said Julian Carr, Manchester Airport, Aviation Director. “We are delighted to have another North American route in our portfolio, giving our 29.5 million annual passengers more choice and connectivity to get across the Atlantic and beyond. Not only will this route provide the North of England direct access to a great city like Halifax, but the service will also open a host of other Canadian cities which we don’t currently serve. It’s another clear indication of the role we play in connecting the northern powerhouse to key international hubs.”

“We are thrilled with the addition of the new route from Halifax to Manchester which will make it even easier for travellers to explore the North of England and beyond,” said Paul Gauger, Senior Vice President The Americas, VisitBritain, the national tourism agency for Britain. “We hope that the new flights, along with our message of welcome and great value, inspires even more visitors from Canada to book a trip to Britain right now.”

FLYHT Awarded SatCom Contract from WestJet

Provided by FLYHT Aerospace Solutions Ltd./Globe Newswire

CALGARY, Alberta, Jan. 16, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — FLYHT Aerospace Solutions Ltd. (TSX-V: FLY) (OTCQX: FLYLF) (the “Company” or “FLYHT”) has secured a US$6.2 million contract with WestJet to install FLYHT’s Automated Flight Information Reporting System (AFIRS™).

Under the terms of the five year agreement, FLYHT will provide WestJet with AFIRS units to support satellite communications (Satcom) as well as Satcom Air Traffic Control (ATC) data safety services, FANS datalink (allowing pilots and ATC to communicate directly, using digital text transmissions), and voice capabilities. WestJet will use AFIRS on its entire Boeing 737 fleet. As a result, AFIRS will be installed on more than 160 aircraft at WestJet.

“WestJet is on its way to becoming a global network airline and adding them to our growing customer base is a milestone for FLYHT,” says Derek Taylor, Sales Director at FLYHT. “With each new customer, we gain an additional proof point that validates the efficacy of our solutions. We look forward to providing WestJet with upgraded Satcom capabilities and leveraging this contract to generate additive benefits for both FLYHT and WestJet.”

CAE open to building 737 Max simulators faster to help airlines

News provided by the Montreal Gazette – link to full story

Montreal-based manufacturer says it’s ready to speed up output once the beleaguered jet is cleared to fly again.

Montreal’s CAE Inc. stands ready to speed up production of Boeing Co. 737 Max flight simulators once the beleaguered jet is cleared to fly again — whenever that happens.

Boeing on Tuesday recommended airline pilots go through simulator training before they resume operating the 737 Max — a departure from its long-held position that pilots would only require computer-based training. The U.S. planemaker has spent the past few months preparing software fixes to secure regulatory approval for the jets to fly commercially again.

The 737 Max has been grounded since March following two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Air Canada and WestJet Airlines, the two biggest Canadian carriers, both flew the plane until the grounding.

Long a manufacturer of full-flight simulators, CAE also runs the world’s largest training network for civil aviation pilots, with about 300 devices deployed at company-run facilities in cities such as Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lumpur and London. CAE says its 2,000 instructors train more than 135,000 pilots every year.

“We think we have a role to play to help solve the situation,” Hélène Gagnon, a CAE spokeswoman, told the Montreal Gazette in a telephone interview. “We can increase our production capacity. We can go faster. We have the people and we have the space. It’s easier for us to boost output than it would be for a smaller player.”

While welcoming Boeing’s revised stance, which will present CAE with a “clear market opportunity,” Gagnon noted it will be up to regulatory authorities such as Transport Canada and the Federal Aviation Administration of the U.S. to outline training rules for 737 Max pilots. No such decision has yet been taken.

Only 34 certified Max flight simulators currently exist globally, the New York Times and the Seattle Times reported Tuesday.

CAE currently needs about a year to build a 737 Max simulator, Gagnon said. She couldn’t immediately say how much time could be saved by speeding up output, or how many workers CAE would need to hire.

All of CAE’s simulator manufacturing takes place in Montreal. The company says it controls about 80 per cent of the global market for the devices.

CAE is currently building 25 of its 737 Max simulators for various airlines, having already delivered 23 units as of last month. It also has two 737 Max devices installed at company training centres in Toronto and Dallas. Carriers that have bought CAE simulators for the 737 Max include Air Canada and Southwest Airlines of the U.S.

Gagnon declined to say how much time CAE will need to build the remaining 737 Max simulators it has on order.

CAE said in November it had started making extra 737 Max simulators in anticipation of future demand. It wouldn’t say how many of those so-called “white tail” devices — which aren’t attributed to any airline customer — are being built.

Once Boeing’s software fixes have been approved, all 737 Max simulators — including CAE’s — will still need to be re-certified by Transport Canada and other civil aviation authorities.

Reuters contributed to this report.

TSB has options for investigation after WestJet plane skids off Halifax runway, spokesman says

News provided by The Globe and Mail – link to full story and updatesa

HALIFAX, THE CANADIAN PRESS, JANUARY 6, 2020

A firefighter stands on the steps of a Westjet aircraft that skidded off the runway at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, on Jan. 5, 2020.ANDREW VAUGHAN/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Three investigators from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada are trying to determine why a passenger jet skidded off the end of a runway at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport on the weekend.

WestJet Flight 248 landed in the midst of a snowstorm just after noon on Sunday and overshot Runway 14 with 172 passengers and seven crew members aboard.

There were no injuries and it remains unclear whether the Boeing 737 was damaged when it came to a stop on a grassy area about 50 metres beyond the runway.

“There was preliminary information that there was no apparent damage to the aircraft,” board spokesman Chris Krepski said in an interview. “The maintenance organization for WestJet will take a closer look at the aircraft.”

Krepski said the board has three main options as it moves forward with its investigation.

The board could conduct a comprehensive investigation and submit a full report with recommendations. It could also submit a shorter report based on a limited probe, or it could simply add basic details to its database if investigators determine there is nothing that would contribute to transportation safety.

“Right now, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada continues to gather information and we’ll assess that information to determine what the scope of an investigation might be,” Krepski said.

Runway 14 was reopened Sunday around 10 p.m. after the jet was towed away.