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Canada to return MAX to skies with requirements above and beyond US

written by Hannah Dowling | January 19, 2021
Impression of WestJet 737 MAX. (Boeing)

Canadian authorities have confirmed they will lift the nearly two-year flight ban on the embattled Boeing 737 MAX from Wednesday, 20 January.

Transport Canada stated in its announcement of the move that it had already issued an airworthiness directive to aircraft owners and operators, with the changes required to be implemented before the aircraft can return to service.

As the regulator stated previously, its requirements go above and beyond that of US authorities, which reinstated the plane for commercial use over two months prior, in November 2020.

While much of the requirements stated in the airworthiness directive remain in step with that of the US Federal Aviation Administration, authorities in both the EU and Canada stated they would require additional training for pilots that exceeds what is required in the US, before letting the plane return to the skies.

Transport Canada also stated its additional training and protocol requirements allow a pilot to reduce the cockpit workload in specific conditions.

It appears that airlines have already prepared their jets to return to service, and completed much of the required safety checks and updates to system software, following the FAA’s decision in November, with MAX jets filled with passengers due to fly in Canada by the week’s end.

Canadian airline WestJet has said it will restart flights using the MAX jet as soon as Thursday, just one day after the Canadian ban is to be lifted.

WestJet has said it will operate three weekly round-trip flights between Calgary and Toronto on the MAX, and will consider adding additional routes on the jet for February.

Meanwhile, Air Canada has said it will resume MAX flights from 1 February 2021 on services between Toronto and five Canadian destinations: Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

Speaking of the announcement, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said, “Over the last 20 months, Transport Canada’s civil aviation safety experts, by their rigour and thoroughness, have ensured the safety concerns the department had identified have been addressed.

“Canadians and the airline industry can rest assured that Transport Canada has diligently addressed all safety issues prior to permitting this aircraft to return to service in Canadian airspace.”

The 737 MAX was grounded around the globe for the better part of two years following two fatal crashes that killed a total of 346 people.

Since then, Boeing and a team of international aviation authorities have rigorously tested the aircraft, and made critical changes to the aircraft’s software and sensor systems, to prevent such tragedies in the future.

To date, authorities in the US, Brazil and now Canada have approved the jet to return to commercial passenger service.

The EU has said it will lift the ban on the MAX in January, however it is still yet to make such an announcement.

Chinese authorities have made no indication of if and when they will decide to lift the grounding order in their jurisdiction. China was previously one of the most popular markets for the MAX.


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