FAA, Boeing complete 737 MAX certification test flights

From The Globe and Mail – link to story


In this file photo taken on June 29, 2020, a Boeing 737 MAX jet comes in for a landing following a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle.JASON REDMOND/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing Co have completed certification test flights on the 737 MAX, a key milestone toward the plane’s return to service, the U.S. regulator said on Wednesday.

The MAX has been grounded since March 2019 after two fatal crashes in five months killed 346 people.

The FAA said it must still evaluate data from the three days of testing and has other tasks to complete.

“The agency is following a deliberate process and will take the time it needs to thoroughly review Boeing’s work,” the FAA said. “We will lift the grounding order only after FAA safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.”

Boeing declined to comment, saying it would defer to the FAA statement.

The tests of Boeing’s proposed changes to the automated flight control system on the aircraft are a pivotal moment in the company’s worst-ever corporate crisis. The FAA must complete the data review, approve new pilot training procedures, among other steps, and is unlikely to approve the plane’s ungrounding until mid-September, Reuters reported this week.

If that happens, the jet is on a path to resume U.S. service before year-end, in a process plagued by delays.

The crisis has cost Boeing more than $18 billion, slashed production and hobbled its supply chain, with criminal and congressional investigations still ongoing. In December, Boeing fired Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg after scrutiny into the jet’s design and development tarnished its reputation with airlines and regulators.

A Transportation Department inspector general report first reported by Reuters on Tuesday faulted Boeing for not disclosing information to the FAA about a key safety system known as MCAS tied to both fatal crashes.

Boeing agreed to add significant safeguards to MCAS, make other software updates and move wiring bundles that the FAA said posed a safety hazard.

400 people to be laid off at Boeing in Winnipeg in coming weeks

From CBC News – link to story

Cuts make up about one-quarter of the aerospace company’s workforce in Winnipeg

Caitlyn Gowriluk · CBC News · Posted: May 24, 2020

Boeing employs around 1,600 people in Winnipeg, according to the aerospace company’s website. (Trevor Brine/CBC)


Boeing will lay off around 400 employees in Winnipeg over the next few weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokesperson for the aerospace company says.

Employees at the company were told about the cuts on Friday, spokesperson Jessica Kowal said in a statement emailed to CBC News.

“Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Boeing previously announced we would adjust the size of our company to reflect new market realities through a combination of voluntary layoffs, natural turnover and involuntary layoffs,” the statement said.

Kowal said the brunt of the cuts at Boeing are being made “in areas most exposed to the commercial aviation market as well as our corporate functions.” She said Boeing’s Winnipeg site mainly produces components for the company’s commercial planes.

The cuts make up about one-quarter of the aerospace company’s workforce in Winnipeg. According to Boeing’s website, the company has around 1,600 employees in the city.

Air Canada Warms To A321LR After Cancelling 737 MAXs

News from Forbes – link to story

Will Horton Senior Contributor, Aerospace & Defense | 20 May 2020

The Airbus A321LR may have an opening to replace Air Canada’s cancelled Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft.

Air Canada cancelled 11 737 MAXs in March so it could have flexibility to order other aircraft, according to CFO Michael Rousseau. The change reduced Air Canada’s firm MAX order from 61 to 50.

“It gave us some optionality on potentially some other planes we might want to look at in the middle of the decade,” Rousseau told the Wolfe Global Transportation Conference. “Those 11 were basically being delivered in the middle of this decade.”

Air Canada Registration number C-GEHV which had just come in as Flight AC 758, from San Francisco, a 737 Max 8, is rolled out of the gate after being grounded,
TORONTO, ON- MARCH 13 – Air Canada Registration number C-GEHV which had just come in as Flight AC … [+] TORONTO STAR VIA GETTY IMAGES

Rousseau did not specify the candidates to replace the MAX 9, but he was upbeat when asked about the A321neo.

“The LR would be more interesting to us than the neo,” he said. The A321LR has been increasingly out-performing the 737 MAX 9 on payload and range. “We’ll see how the market evolves.”

Air Canada operates 15 A321s. “They’re good, cost-efficient planes for us,” Rousseau said. “We like A321s.”

Air Canada’s 2013 selection of the 737 MAX over the A320neo family was a major win for Boeing BA since Air Canada never operated the 737 NG and has no A320neo family aircraft on order.

08/26/08 - MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO - Ahmad Shah, 21, a serviceman with Consolidated Aviation Fueling of
08/26/08 – MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO – Ahmad Shah, 21, a serviceman with Consolidated Aviation Fueling of … [+] TORONTO STAR VIA GETTY IMAGES

Rousseau is positive about the 737 MAX 8, of which it has received 24. “We still like the plane,” he said. “It’s very good for Air Canada.”

The 737 MAX can help re-build traffic after COVID-19, Rousseau said.

“We think North American markets come back first,” he said. “Planes like the Airbus A220 and the MAX are the two most efficient planes to support that market.”

Air Canada expects the 737 MAX grounding to be lifted later this year, improving financing options.

“Once ungrounded, we believe the market will finance the MAX,” Rousseau said. “Also EXIM is back in business.” Air Canada will finance future MAX deliveries via EXIM, EETC or sale and lease back.

737 MAX customer Southwest Airlines LUV noted it is hard to argue for MAX grounding compensation while COVID-19 grinds most traffic to halt. This dilemma is not applicable for Rousseau.

“We’ve come to terms with Boeing already,” he said. “There won’t be any more adjustments from what we had already negotiated.”

The MAX reduction was not because of the start of the coronavirus outbreak, Rousseau said. “It was a purely independent fleet decision we made to give ourselves a little more fleet flexibility.”

© 2020 Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

How WestJet reacted quickly to virus – and faced up to tough decisions

News from FlightGlobal – link to story

By Pilar Wolfsteller, FlightGlobal.com – 17 April 2020

The Canadian carrier’s chief executive Ed Sims describes the difficult choices already made and those that lie ahead amid the coronavirus outbreak.

When WestJet chief executive Ed Sims drives past Calgary International airport to his office every morning, he sees a row of parked aircraft, grounded by the coronavirus pandemic, and wonders what fresh hell awaits.

“It’s just so unpredictable for all of us at the moment,” Sims says. “The strange thing about this environment is that we have no waypoints. It’s really difficult for people in the airline world who love that sense of predictability, and, let’s be honest, that sense of control.

“Whatever our role – pilots, engineers, chief executives – we are all having to adjust to a world without any control.”

Ed Sims WestJet
Source: The Canadian Press

Sims: the airline’s command centre quickly identified that borders would close

WestJet is Canadian aviation’s irreverent upstart, born in 1996 as a low-cost carrier in the western boomtown at the foot of the Rocky Mountains known more for its annual rodeo – the Calgary Stampede – than its ability to sustain a multibillion-dollar international airline.

In the almost quarter-century of its existence, and through many an economic crunch and strategic misstep, the airline has survived, learned, thrived and built up a devoted customer base that is giving legacy carrier Air Canada, 60 years its senior, a real run for its money.

WestJet’s management team started planning for a catastrophic event related to the coronavirus long before it actually became one. In the first week of March, when the virus still seemed a very distant threat, Canada’s second-largest and fastest-growing airline set up an incident command centre, with experts and managers from every corner of the company.

They were tasked to anticipate what operations would look like not if, but when, the spread of the virus brought the airline and the entire industry to its knees. Since then the command centre has met every morning at 09:00 local time for a situation report.


From day one, the participants knew it would be a bloodbath.

“We grounded all our international fleet four days before Canada announced border closures. What that gave us was time. We completely rescheduled all of our network to bring aircraft back to base in the space of 72h without having to do it 6h before the borders were closing around us.”

It was a massive logistical undertaking for his operations team to find parking space for 120 aircraft, or two thirds of WestJet’s fleet, which brought the airline to the size it was in 2003, in just a few days.

The team secured space in Calgary for about half of those airliners, as well as parking spots in Edmonton, Toronto and Kelowna.

“The first lesson for me was, you know this is difficult. You face it, and you get to it early, before somebody takes the options away,” Sims says. “When I knew we were parking two thirds of the fleet, I knew I was going to have to essentially lay off at least half of our people.”

On 16 March the airline said it would begin suspending international flights and reducing domestic operations by 50% later that week. On 24 March, the company dismissed 6,900 employees, and on 17 April WestJet said it is laying off another 1,700 pilots.

“When I briefed our management team about the horrible reality of having to lay off 6,900 staff, I asked them to focus on all the jobs they were saving, the 7,000 that we were retaining in the organisation, and how important every single one of those jobs were. And if you can just focus on what you’re retaining, rather than the reality of what you’re losing, then you don’t get overwhelmed by the enormity of the task that you’re being asked to undertake.”

Parked WestJet aircraft
Source: WestJet

Around half of WestJet’s grounded fleet is parked at Calgary

About 500 employees chose early retirement, and the rest are expected to return to the airline in some capacity when this crisis is over.

Sims says WestJet will partake in the “Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy” programme, in which the government has made C$71 billion ($50.6 billion) available to companies that have seen revenue decline by at least 30% due to the coronavirus crisis. The programme reimburses up to 75% of employees’ salaries, to a maximum of C$847 weekly, according to the government’s website.

“We will be looking to participate in the government scheme and to bring those people back onto the payroll, although not back into work, because frankly, there just isn’t the passenger demand and there isn’t enough work for them,” Sims says. “The ability to bring those people back in, albeit on a lower salary level than some of them would have been used to prior, is at least helping people make ends meet, which in the current environment is probably as much as you can do.”

The airline also said in March that its executive team members and directors had taken pay cuts, it released most of its contractors, instituted a hiring freeze, stopped non-essential travel and paused many capital projects – all in the name of preserving cash.


WestJet is currently operating between 100 and 180 domestic and repatriation flights per day, while keeping close tabs on load factors. The target is 50%.

“We’ve been cancelling two to three days out, to try to make sure that we don’t fly planes with just one or two people on board. This concept of “ghost flying” is anathema to me, because I’m also still trying to keep one eye on environmental damage.”

But the term “load factor” doesn’t mean what it used to. It’s currently distorted, he says, due to the social distancing measures the airline has introduced, including not selling middle seats on the larger aircraft, and staggering occupied seats in the Dash 8-400 turboprops, to ensure that passengers who do fly have enough personal space to stay safe.

Like some of its peers, WestJet has also pivoted to carrying more cargo, and has been repatriating Canadians stranded overseas as a result of the international health crisis. Aircraft are flying to destinations which the airline does not usually serve with regularly scheduled flights, including Panama, Trinidad and Havana, among others, to pick up Canada’s citizens.

“We’re carrying enormous amounts of essential medical supplies, both inbound on some of our repatriation flights but also across Canada, particularly to communities that would otherwise be really struggling with a shortfall in road traffic,” Sims says.


With all of these planes sitting idle, Sims is wondering what the future will look like, and how long it will take the industry to return. WestJet’s 13 Boeing 737 Max jets have been grounded for more than a year now, and the airline is considering what to do with the 44 more it has on order.

“In previous conversations, I’ve said we’re committed to the forward order,” Sims says. “But now we have to look at a very different reality where, if I take 9/11 as a parallel – it took three years for North American traffic levels to recover, from September 2001 to September 2004. This has been like a sequence of disasters of that magnitude on the aviation industry week after week and I think it is a reasonable assumption to say it’ll take even longer for traffic levels to recover.

“Max customers have to look at their forward order and say, is that still going to be appropriate? I can’t answer that right now, other than it’s causing me to do a lot of soul searching. How much capacity is actually going to be viable?”

WestJet 737 Max
Source: Shutterstock

WestJet’s 13 737 Max jets have been grounded for more than a year

Viability of the Max orders aside, Sims says he is optimistic that the airline and its loyal band of “WestJetters” will successfully navigate the crisis, no matter how long it takes. Three strategic elements inspire this confidence, and the result could serve as a crisis management case study for business administration students of the future.

First, he says, secure the element of time – make difficult decisions before they are made for you. Second, set a rhythm to follow rigorously, “like a metronome”.

But most importantly, bring in the professionals – he calls them “warriors” – who are able to manoeuvre through something that none of them has ever experienced before.

“I always recruited people with battle scars, but who are still smiling. And that sense of resilience has been so critical in the way that we manage this,” he says.

“Through that we retain an ability to put ourselves in the shoes of the people we’re laying off. We put ourselves in the shoes of guests who are stranded in Panama, or in San Salvador. And we then reflect that we have to fight to do whatever we can to help those people.”

Boeing Finds New Software Flaws on 737 Max

News from BNN Bloomberg – link to story

Alan Levin, Bloomberg News ` April 7 2020

(Bloomberg) — Boeing Co. has identified two new software problems with the grounded 737 Max that must be fixed before the jetliner can carry passengers again.

The issues involve the flight-control computer and don’t affect the plane’s estimated return to service in mid-2020, Boeing said in an email Tuesday. The Max’s software has been undergoing a redesign after being linked to two fatal crashes that prompted a worldwide flying ban more than a year ago.

The new flaws deepen the engineering challenge for Boeing as it tries to return its best-selling jet to the skies. One of the problems involves “hypothetical faults” in the computer’s microprocessor, which could lead the plane to climb or dive on its own, Boeing said. A safety system on the Max caused the jet to dive automatically in both accidents, but the problems aren’t related, Boeing said.

The other newly revealed fault could potentially cause the autopilot to disengage as the aircraft prepares to land. Neither problem has been observed in flight, but the software changes will eliminate the possibility that they could occur, the company said. The modifications can be incorporated into the plane at the same time.

In a separate statement, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it has been in contact with the company about the issues.

The new software problems were reported earlier by Reuters.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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.


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


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.


Flight data shows 160 Boeing 737 Max flights

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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.