Canada Bans the 737 MAX From Its Airspace

Mar 13, 2019

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Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced on Wednesday morning the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX in Canada and preventing it from entering its airspace.

He said that Transport Canada received “new data” overnight regarding the flight profile of the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that showed similarities to the Lion Air MAX 8 crash in October.  “It crossed a threshold in our minds in terms of the profile,” said Garneau. The decision leaves the United States nearly alone among major operators of the airplane in not grounding it.

While he acknowledged that the comparison was “not conclusive,” it was enough to drive the grounding decision. 

“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,” said Garneau.

Garneau said that Transport Canada has been working very closely with the FAA on the MAX issues, and notified the Americans of his decision Wednesday morning. “We make our own decisions in Canada, and occasionally those decisions may be different from our colleagues south of the border. They’re aware of it, and the reasons for it.”

According to Garneau, there have been no Canadian reports of flight control issues related to the MCAS, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which is the focus of the investigation into the Lion Air crash.

“Our Canadian pilots have been given additional training, I think we have the most focused approach on what to do if this happened on a Canadian aircraft,” Garneau said, referencing the system that automatically lowers the nose if it thinks the airplane is about to stall, or lose lift, because the jet is at too steep an angle. “In fact, I’m comfortable with the fact that our Canadian pilots know exactly what to do in such a situation.”

Canada-based Air Canada, WestJet and Sunwing Airlines operate a total of 41 737 MAX8 jets, and Garneau said he received “no pushback” from the airlines when they were advised of the decision.

Featured image of Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 landing at London Heathrow by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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