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Boeing 737 Max Spreads Wings With Approvals in Canada and Europe

Madhu Unnikrishnan

January 19th, 2021

Transport Canada, the country’s transportation ministry, said it will lift restrictions on the Boeing 737 Max Wednesday, clearing the way for the aircraft to fly again in Canadian airspace.

The ministry said it has completed its technical review and has made recommended modifications to the Max. On January 20, the agency will void its notice to airmen (NOTAM), allowing full commercial operation of the aircraft in Canada.

“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,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a statement announcing the news.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said it plans to re-certify the Max next week but did not offer a more precise timeline.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) re-certified the Max last year, but U.S. airlines were prohibited from flying the aircraft in Canada until Transport Canada lifted its NOTAM. Both Air Canada and WestJet operate the type.

Air Canada plans to reintroduce the 737 Max on certain routes on February 1. The carrier has 24 of the type and plans a “gradual” reintroduction of the aircraft into its network, a spokesperson told Airline Weekly. As part of its reintroduction, Air Canada has published a video to inform passengers of the aircraft’s safety, and is allowing passengers to see what type of aircraft they are booking flights on.

“We are very confident the nearly two-year regulatory process undertaken by Transport Canada and other regulators worldwide ensures the utmost safety of the Boeing 737 Max fleet from nose to tail, and from wing to wing,” Vice President of Flight Operations Murray Strom said in a statement.

In its third-quarter 2020 earnings announcement, Air Canada said it is deferring further aircraft deliveries this year and has cancelled orders for 10 737 Max aircraft.

WestJet plans to reintroduce the Max on January 21, a spokeswoman said. The low-cost carrier has 13 of the type in its fleet. The first flight will be between Calgary and Vancouver. Calgary-Toronto will follow shortly. Like Air Canada, WestJet has published a video to reassure passengers on the safety of the aircraft.

Regulators worldwide grounded the Max in 2019 after two fatal accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia were linked to the aircraft’s flight-control software. Boeing, which earlier this month agreed to pay more than $2 billion in fines related to the Max’s certification process, worked with regulators to correct the software. The FAA, Mexican and Brazilian regulators cleared the aircraft late last year.

Madhu Unnikrishnan

January 19th, 2021

Photo credit:  WestJet

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