Tuesday, November 5, 2019 Posted by Travelweek Group
OTTAWA — Flight attendants on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border are standing in solidarity over safety concerns about the Boeing 737 Max.
The unions representing flight attendants at Air Canada, Sunwing and WestJet are showing their support for their American counterparts, who last week expressed their concerns about the troubled aircraft. In a letter dated Oct. 30, American Airlines’ flight attendants union, which represents 28,000 employees, said they are refusing to “walk onto a plane that may not be safe and are calling for the highest possible safety standards to avoid another tragedy.”
The Air Canada Component of CUPE (Air Canada Mainline and Air Canada Rouge), CUPE local 4055 (Sunwing), and CUPE local 4070 (WestJet, WestJet Encore and Swoop) are calling on Transport Canada to take its responsibility in ensuring the safety of these aircraft.
In an official statement, CUPE said: “The safety of passengers and crew must always come first. The federal government’s decision to ground the Boeing 737 Max in Canada was the right thing to do. Given the record of Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration in that file, it will now be up to Transport Canada to provide assurances that these aircraft are fully compliant and safe for union members and the travelling public.”
Like the U.S. flight attendant unions, CUPE must be consulted before Transport Canada makes the decision to allow the Max to fly in Canada again.
“We need access to all the information required to assess the safety of these aircraft,” said CUPE. “The highest possible safety standards will be called for to avoid another tragedy. Simply stating these aircraft are safe does not make it so.”
Air Canada, Sunwing and WestJet are the three Canadian airlines operating the Boeing 737 Max. CUPE represents more than 13,000 flight attendants across all three airlines.
Airline first carrier to offer scheduled Dreamliner service to OGG
CALGARY, Oct. 31, 2019 /CNW/ – Today, WestJet’s 787 Dreamliner will carry guests for the first time between Calgary and Maui providing Hawaii-loving travellers the opportunity to experience WestJet’s state-of-the-art aircraft and award-winning guest experience while flying over the Pacific.
“As the Canadian carrier with the most flights to Hawaii we’re providing a superior experience for our guests flying across the Pacific this winter,” said Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “WestJet is the first to offer scheduled Dreamliner service to Maui and we’re confident guests will enjoy their travel experience onboard our Dreamliners as they head to and from Hawaiian paradise.”
WestJet is the Canadian airline with the most flights to Hawaii and this winter will operate up to 54 weekly flights to four destinations. During peak season, the airline will operate 22 weekly flights between Western Canada and Maui and up to 28 weekly flights between Vancouver and Honolulu, Lihue and Kona.
“Our guests love a direct getaway to beautiful Maui, adding Dreamliner service to one of Hawaii’s most desirable places makes the journey even better,” said Bob Sartor, President & CEO, The Calgary Airport Authority. “We’re proud to be WestJet’s hub and the home to its Dreamliner fleet and will continue to support our strategic partner’s exciting growth.”
The WestJet Dreamliner features 320 seats in three cabins: Business, Premium and Economy, all of which contain a high-level of comfort and WestJet’s award-winning guest service. The Dreamliner’s Business cabin features all-aisle-access, lie-flat seats with on-demand dining and entertainment. The upscale Premium cabin is the ideal combination of comfort, value and guest service including a separate cabin, elevated meal service and signature welcome perks featuring sparkling wine and an amenity case. WestJet’s improved Economy cabin features on-demand inflight entertainment, blankets and pillows and complimentary food and beverages with a select number of extra legroom seats available for purchase.
Details of WestJet’s current service between Calgary and Maui (OGG):
BY LIAM CASEY, THE CANADIAN PRESS Posted October 23, 2019
A Toronto man saw a months-long wait draw to a bittersweet end on Tuesday as he returned to Canada with the bodies of two relatives who were killed in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane this year.
Mohamad Ali said he waited seven months before he was cleared to go to Ethiopia and retrieve the remains of his sister Amina Odowa and her five-year-old daughter Sophia Abdulkadir.
The two were among 18 Canadians who died in March when the plane went down en route to Kenya, killing all 157 people on board.
READ MORE: ‘I don’t want her death to be in vain’– Canadian families plead for Boeing 737 MAX 8 to remain grounded
Ali said touching their caskets for the first time brought him a sense of lightness, energy, and a measure of peace.
“Coming with them all the way, I feel their presence all over me right now,” Ali said. “This is very important. It feels good now they are with us.”
The mother and daughter were among a group of seven Canadians who were repatriated at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Tuesday morning. But the journey for Odowa and Sophia is set to continue through the week.
Ali said he plans to fly with his sister and niece’s remains to Edmonton on Tuesday night and bury them side-by-side on Friday in a small Muslim ceremony.
He said doing so will allow Odowa’s mother and her other two daughters, ages four and eight, to visit her grave and say prayers.
Ali said the burial will help bring the closure that’s proved elusive for the family since the crash, adding the wait to claim their bodies was particularly trying.
“We’ve been very unsettled,” he said. “We couldn’t do a lot of things like move forward because we were on standby the last seven months, waiting for the remains to come.”
The Ethiopian Airlines flight left the capital city of Addis Ababa on its way to Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10. The Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crashed just six minutes into the flight.
The incident was strikingly similar to last year’s crash of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia, which involved the same type of aircraft coming to harm moments after takeoff.
The crashes prompted a widespread grounding of the Ethiopian Airlines while concerns about its safety were investigated.
In several lawsuits filed on behalf of Canadian victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, plaintiffs allege the pilots were in a tug-of-war with the plane’s automated flight system, manually trying to climb while the computer caused the craft to dive repeatedly and ultimately crash.
Canadian victims included a renowned Carleton University professor, an accountant with the City of Calgary and a 24-year-old Winnipeg woman on her way to the United Nations Environment Assembly.
American authorities including the United States House of Representatives, the Department of Justice and the Transportation Department inspector general are investigating how the Max 8 was certified for flight by the Federal Aviation Administration.
On Wednesday, families of the victims killed in the crash sent a letter to FAA administrator Steve Dickson and Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao demanding that Boeing’s authority to self-certify its planes be revoked.
“The FAA should revoke Boeing’s ODA because it cannot be trusted to self-certify its product,” Michael Stump, father of Samya Stumo, who was killed in the crash, said in a press release.
“We want to be certain that there will be no third crash so no one else suffers the terrible loss that all of us have.”
According to the press release, more than a dozen family members from various countries have planned to attend hearings on Capitol Hill later this month. Boeing’s top officials, including chief executive officer Dennis Muilenburg, are expected to testify before U.S. Senate and House committees regarding the 737 MAX 8 airplane in the wake of the two fatal crashes.
MONTREAL, Oct. 16, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada said today that it has now removed the Boeing 737 Max from its flying schedule until February 14, 2020. The decision is based on operational considerations for the airline, as it launches a new reservation system beginning next month.
“Today we are extending to February 14, 2020 the removal of the Boeing 737 Max from our operating schedule. We are taking this prudent step as a result of the ongoing regulatory uncertainty about the timing of the aircraft returning to service. The extension will give us scheduling predictability through the implementation of the first phase of our new reservation system and the required stability as we prepare the second phase of the system roll-out, introducing it into the airport environment,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada. “As a result of these and other measures we are taking, including leasing two additional wide-body aircraft through at least the March Break, customers can continue to book with full confidence on Air Canada.”
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 approval by international regulatory authorities.
CALGARY – WestJet Airlines, Sunwing Vacations Inc. and Transat A.T. said Thursday they were examining their fleets of Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft for cracks after a U.S. regulator ordered the inspections.
The company says it has had no structural cracks in its 737 NG fleet and expects minimal disruptions from the inspections.
Sunwing Vacations Inc. said it had received the directive from the FAA and will be inspecting its fleet as appropriate but didn’t expect any disruptions to its schedule.
The company did not say how many of its planes require inspection, but it has more than 40 of the Boeing 737 NG aircraft in its fleet.
Air Transat said it has five 737 NG planes in its fleet plus a temporary one. It said two of the planes would require a visual inspection that would take about an hour, but none of its planes have flown enough to require a more extensive check.
Air Canada says it does not have any of the Boeing 737 NG planes.
The FAA said that if the cracking was not addressed it could lead to a loss of control of the airplane.
The inspection order comes as Boeing remains under scrutiny after two deadly crashes led to a grounding of its Boeing 737 Max aircraft in March.
The crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia killed a total of 346 people on board, including 18 Canadians.
WestJet announced in September that it was removing 737 Max jets from its holiday schedule while Air Canada warned the impact of the grounded jet on its operations may ripple well into 2021.
Sunwing said in August that its four Maxes will be absent from the rotation until mid-May, with some 3,000 flights having been affected over the summer alone.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 3, 2019.
News provided by CBC News – link to full story and updates
U.S. FAA is requiring some operators to inspect their aircraft and report back
Thomson Reuters · Posted: Sep 28, 2019 | Last Updated: September 28
More bad news for Boeing’s 737 line of aircraft: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said late Friday it will require operators of some 737 NG jetliners to conduct inspections for structural cracks and make repairs as needed following the discovery of cracks on a small number of planes.
The FAA said Boeing notified it of the issue “after it discovered the cracks while conducting modifications on a heavily used aircraft.” Subsequent inspections “uncovered similar cracks in a small number of additional planes.” Boeing said on Friday it has been in contact with 737 NG operators about a cracking issue, but added that “no in-service issues have been reported.”
Neither the FAA nor Boeing immediately said how many planes were impacted by the required inspections.
The 737 NG, or Next Generation, was introduced in 1997 and is the third-generation version of the best-selling Boeing airplane. It includes the 737-600, -700, -800 and -900 models and is operated in Canada by WestJet and Air Transat but not Air Canada. There was no immediate indication that either airline’s fleets were affected.
Its successor is the 737 MAX series, which was grounded in March after two fatal crashes in five months, but which is not affected by this issue, Boeing said.
The FAA said it would ask operators of the NG to “report their findings to the agency immediately” after completing inspections. Boeing said “over the coming days, we will work closely with our customers to implement a recommended inspection plan for certain airplanes in the fleet.”
KOMO News reported on Friday the issue involved cracked “pickle forks” in some 737 NG jets. The pickle fork attaches the plane’s fuselage, or body, to the wing structure and manages forces. A failure of the part in flight could pose a serious risk. KOMO said workers found a severely cracked pickle fork on a Boeing 737NG earlier this month.
Lithuanian wet-lease provider GetJet Airlines has entered the Canadian market with a contract to perform flights for leisure carrier Sunwing Airlines.
GetJet began flying on behalf of Toronto-based Sunwing Sept. 2 with an Airbus A319 under a short-term contract. The additional capacity was needed to help compensate for the grounding of Sunwing’s four Boeing 737 MAX 8s, GetJet said.
“Canada is a new strategic destination for us—until now we have mostly been operating in Europe,” GetJet CEO Darius Viltrakis said. “Entering the Canadian market has been a long-term goal for GetJet Airlines, and one for which we have been preparing carefully and thoroughly. This partnership will strengthen our position in the international market [as we] embark on further expansion in North America after this very promising beginning.”
Vilnius-based GetJet provides aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) and charter services with a fleet of 17 aircraft: three Airbus A319s, six A320s, an A330 and seven Boeing 737s.
WestJet Airlines Ltd. says Boeing Co. has completed a critical software update to its troubled 737 Max jets, although the carrier still doesn’t know when the grounded aircraft will return to service, according to an internal email obtained by BNN Bloomberg.
“Boeing has now finalized Flight Control Computer software version 12.1.2 which is slated for certification next month,” wrote Scott Wilson, WestJet’s vice-president of flight operations, in the email.
“As we enter the seventh month of the airspace closure restricting Max operations, we are beginning to gain enough clarity to start providing information that doesn’t change on us a week later,” he added.
WestJet, like Air Canada, recently scrubbed the Max from its holiday schedule. The company operates 13 of Boeing’s Max aircraft.
The grounding of the jets, which were banned from Canadian airspace in the wake of two deadly crashes, were cited by Statistics Canada this week as the chief source of a whopping 10 per cent year-over-year increase in airfares in August.
Wilson also stated in the email that the airline’s management doesn’t know when the 737 Max planes will be cleared to fly by regulators.
“It is the actual path back to service that has more indefinite timelines and regulatory complications,” Wilson wrote.
He added federal regulators are “aligned” on the changes Boeing needs to incorporate into the aircraft to prevent further accidents from happening.
However, WestJet will send a team to Boeing’s training facility in Miami next week to test the new software update “to experience the operating characteristics” during a flight simulation, Wilson said.
In a July interview with BNN Bloomberg, WestJet CEO Ed Sims said the grounding has had a “very significant impact” on the airline’s operations.
But he insisted he is still confident in Boeing.
“I believe in the MAX, I believe in the reliability of Boeing,” he said at the time. “I have very strong confidence that they will move beyond those issues.”
WASHINGTON — Boeing Co still has a series of steps to complete before the 737 MAX can return to service, including submitting a pre-production version of a software update, Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson said.
Dickson met with Boeing executives in Renton, Washington on Thursday and tested revised software in a simulator. Next week, he will meet with around 50 aviation safety regulators in Montreal to discuss the status of the plane, which has been grounded worldwide since March in the aftermath of two fatal crashes.
The FAA has been reviewing proposed software and training changes from Boeing Co for months and it remains uncertain when Boeing will conduct a certification test flight, a step needed before its best-selling plane can fly again.
In a telephone interview with Reuters, Dickson laid out a series of steps that must happen before the certification test flight, adding it should then take about another month before the FAA could allow flights to resume absent unforeseen circumstances.
“I am not going to sign off on the plane until I am personally satisfied,” he said.
Some government officials have told Reuters they do not believe Boeing will conduct the certification flight until at least mid-October. Asked if there are at least several weeks of work to be done before that flight can occur, Dickson said he thought that was a “fair statement,” but did not want to set a specific date.
Asked about reports that the FAA has at times been frustrated with a lack of information from Boeing, Dickson said he is satisfied that Boeing has been responsive to him and added the FAA had made clear what it expected.
“We’ve had conversations about the importance of making sure that we are looking at complete documentation and not piecemeal documentation,” Dickson said.
“It’s really better to be very methodical and very detailed rather than try to rush a partially completed product and then say, ‘We’ll get back to you with the rest of it.’”
Boeing has repeatedly said it hopes to resume flights early in the fourth quarter. The company reiterated Thursday it remains “committed to working collaboratively” with the FAA and other regulators.
FAA still needs to see Boeing’s “final system description” – a “500-ish page document that has the architecture of the flight control system and the changes that they have made,” Dickson said, adding that the software changes must be in a “pre-production” code and not a “beta version.”
“We need to see that level of refinement and there has been a good bit of back and forth and some constructive discussions,” he said.
“Until it is locked down, we’ve got to go make sure that there aren’t any new fault trees that have developed that need to be mitigated.”
Once the system description is completed, the FAA will work with Boeing to develop the “integrated system safety analysis” – a step that will take a few days.
Then the FAA will move to the next phase – the pilot workload management scenarios. Once that is done, the agency will be “much closer to a predictable timeline for when the actual certification test flight will occur.”
The FAA plans to get input from international regulators EASA, Canada and Brazil. “We’ve got U.S. and international pilots that have to be scheduled to come out and actually go through the scenarios,” Dickson said, adding it must also finalize training requirements.
Boeing plans to revise the 737 MAX software to take input from both angle-of-attack sensors in the anti-stall system linked to the two deadly crashes. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)
by ALLISON LAMPERT AND TIM HEPHER, MONTREAL/PARIS REUTERS PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 18, 2019
While the world’s Boeing 737 Max fleet remains grounded after two fatal crashes, a solitary Air Canada plane has been spotted in the skies, shuttling between Quebec and Ontario.
In a rare exemption, approved by Canadian aviation regulator Transport Canada, the 11 flights in August and September were partly to maintain the qualifications of senior training pilots, Air Canada told Reuters in response to a query about flight tracking data.
A spokesman for Air Canada said the airline was not able to use similar 737s within its fleet “to maintain check pilot authority in alignment with (Canadian aviation regulations)”.
“So we are utilizing the 737 Max during planned maintenance movements to maintain qualification.”
Between Aug 28 and Sept 8, the Air Canada Max plane criss-crossed between Montreal, Val d’Or, Quebec and North Bay, Ontario, data from Tracking website FlightRadar24 shows.
Then last week, it was flown to Pinal Airpark in Arizona to be parked in a desert storage site.
Although unusual after the grounding imposed worldwide in March amid concerns over an anti-stall system, the flights highlight growing pressures facing some airlines as they prepare for the return to service of the 400-plane Boeing fleet.
The planes have been sitting idle since March following two crashes in the space of five months.
For airlines like Air Canada, which did not have earlier versions of Boeing 737s in their fleets, this has made it difficult to make sure pilots can demonstrate the skills required to retain their licenses.
As North America’s sole Max operator which had not flown the earlier 737NG, Air Canada cannot use that model to maintain the qualifications of its check or trainer pilots, the company said.
So regulator Transport Canada authorized a select group of Air Canada’s check pilots to fly the grounded jet, which was also conducting maintenance flights, the airline said.
All the jets have the same control software suspected of contributing to the accidents, which Boeing is now in the process of revising to smooth its impact. However, some pilots have said existing procedures can prevent similar accidents.
Boeing declined to comment.
Transport Canada said in an e-mail that it authorized the flights “because the carrier does not operate the Boeing 737 NG aircraft, but the pilots still need to maintain currency.”
However, one U.S. carrier questioned by Reuters said such flights would not be possible in the United States where pilot training was not included in a list of exemptions to the ban issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Pilot currency isn’t a listed exemption in the U.S. order,” an FAA spokeswoman confirmed.
North American Max operators, including Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines and Canada’s WestJet Airlines, said they would only move their Max jets for maintenance and storage purposes.
Air Canada’s position as a newly-converted 737 operator follows a seven-year battle between Boeing and Airbus over the introduction of airplanes offering bold new fuel savings.
The introduction of the Max, an upgrade of earlier 737 models with advanced new engines, coincided with a bitter contest for market share between Boeing and Europe’s Airbus, which was offering its similar A320neo.
The feud saw both plane makers use the transition to a new generation of jets to try to poach each other’s customers, and traders said Air Canada’s 2013 decision to switch from Airbus’s A320 family to Boeing’s 737 Max stood out as a major defection.
Now, the decision to switch suppliers potentially weighs on some of those same airlines as they cope without a 737 fleet.
Boeing has predicted that the 737 Max will be cleared to take passengers early next quarter.
The FAA, facing growing international scrutiny over its certification processes, has said it cannot give a precise date for the approval of software and training changes carried out in the wake of the two accidents, which killed 346 people.
FAA chief Stephen Dickson plans to fly to Seattle this week to test modified 737 Max software in a simulator.