Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Transport Canada closes the boarding gate for the Boeing Max 8 and 9 aircraft

Canada has closed its airspace to and shut down the use of the
Boeing 737 MAX  series of planes while investigations
into the cause of two crashes continue

(photo from Boeing website)

In the aftermath of the tragic crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 727 Max 8 over the weekend, the Federal Government has now issued a safety notice that stops the use of any of the aircraft in Canadian airspace pending further investigation into the safety concerns related to the craft.

The statement issued out of Ottawa this morning notes that it will remain in place until further notice.

“My thoughts continue to go out to all those affected by the tragic aircraft accident involving an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

Following advice from Transport Canada Civil Aviation experts, as a precautionary measure, I am issuing a safety notice to address this issue. This safety notice restricts commercial passenger flights from any air operator, both domestic and foreign, of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft - from arriving, departing, or overflying Canadian airspace. 

This safety notice is effective immediately, and will remain in place until further notice. 

The advice the experts have provided is based on the information they have been receiving; the requirements for new procedures and training for Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 flight crews they have already put in place; and the latest information available from the incidents. 

It is too soon to speculate about the cause of the accident in Addis Ababa, and to make direct links to the Lion Air accident in Indonesia in October 2018; however, my department has been closely monitoring the investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority."

The minister's full statement can be reviewed here.

With today's announcement, Canada is playing catch up to a number of other nations including the members of the European Community, China, Australia and many others, who all recently issued a halt to all flights that use the Boeing aircraft.

For Prince Rupert air travellers, the impact locally will not be felt at the Digby Island airport which has departures and arrivals of much smaller aircraft.

But for those that may have connecting flights out of Vancouver the grounding of the Boeing planes will have a significant effect on both Air Canada and WestJet flight schedules.

A recent count of air fleets indicated that Air Canada currently has 24 of the 737 aircraft in its fleet, WestJet hosts 13 and Charter Company SunWing has four, SunWing actually suspended the use its Max flights yesterday.

Following Minister Garneau's announcement of this morning, the YVR arrivals and departures boards, began to see increasing numbers of cancellations listed.

Some background on the 737 Max program can be reviewed from the Boeing website

You can find some further background on the concerns related to the Max 8 plane from the Ottawa Observations page of our political blog D'Arcy McGee.

For notes on aviation in the Northwest see our archive page here.

*** note this story has been modified from its original version to reflect new data on airline fleet status.

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