Canada not grounding Boeing 737 MAX planes despite EU airspace ban
The United Kingdom and the European Union’s aviation safety agency (EASA) have banned Boeing 737 MAX aircraft planes from its airspace after the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people this weekend.
Although there are a growing number of countries banning the plane, Canada is not one of them.
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau is set to hold a press conference Wednesday morning to discuss the matter.
In a statement released Tuesday, the U.K. aviation authority said even though it does not have sufficient information from the flight data recorder from the crash, as a precautionary measure, it has stopped all commercial passenger flights landing, departing or overflying in U.K. airspace using the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
“The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority’s safety directive will be in place until further notice,” it said in a statement. “We remain in close contact with the European Aviation Safety Agency and industry regulators globally.”
On Sunday, an Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet bound for Nairobi crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board, including 18 Canadians. The plane was a Boeing 737 MAX 8.
Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria also announced Tuesday they were closing its airspace to Boeing 737 MAX planes.
“The IAA’s decision has been made taking account of the unprecedented loss of two Boeing 737 MAX in recent months,” the The Irish Aviation Authority said in a statement, referring to the October 2018 crash in which a 737 MAX 8 flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people onboard.
EASA followed the action of the other European nations and suspended all flights in the bloc by Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9 airplanes. It’s the biggest setback yet for the U.S. planemaker.
WATCH: Canada prepared to ground MAX 8 if need be, Garneau says
A growing number of airlines and countries around the world have temporarily grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes as a precaution. Canada is not one of them.
Garneau said on Tuesday Canada will not ban the planes, despite the decision from the European nations.
“It’s important for us not to jump to conclusions, but to evaluate in a very objective and logical way what happened,” he said. “At the moment we have no information whatsoever to lead us to any hypothesis, and yet there are many possible causes of this tragic accident.”
“It was a sunny day, an experienced pilot, the plane was brand new. But we know little else,” he said. “Flying in this country is one of the safest ways to travel. The statistics very, very clearly prove that.”
Garneau added that Canada has a very high safety recording with the Boeing 737 MAX 8, but the government is prepared to ground the jets if need be. He tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he was meeting with a “Civil Aviation Expert Panel” and that “all evidence is being evaluated in real time.”
WATCH: Garneau says Canada being ‘proactive’ despite not grounding Boeing 737 MAX 8
Air Canada has 24 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, WestJet Airlines Ltd. has 13 and Sunwing Airlines flies four MAX 8s, according to Transport Canada’s civil aircraft register.
West Jet told Global News on Tuesday that it does have a MAX aircraft that flies from Halifax to London and Paris, but the flights are seasonal and it does not start until late April. Therefore, the U.K. and France’s ban does not impact the company.
“WestJet remains actively involved in discussions with Transport Canada, Boeing and fellow Canadian operators of the Boeing MAX 737 aircraft and reassures our guests and employees that we will continue to fly with their safety and best interests at the forefront,” a company spokesperson said.
WATCH: The Canadian transport minister said Canada has no plans to follow other countries in their decision to ground Boeing’s 737 Max 8 aircraft after Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash.
Air Canada told Global News that due to the U.K. banning all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operations, it will be cancelling its Halifax to London and St. John’s to London flights Tuesday and Friday.
“We are working to rebook impacted customers as soon as possible through our Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa hubs,” it added, noting that affected customers can contact the carrier directly for more information.
On Tuesday, Boeing released a statement saying it has “full confidence in the safety of the MAX” and that the Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any action at the time.
“Based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators,” it said.
Boeing also confirmed Monday it will deploy a software upgrade to the 737 MAX 8.
The company did not reference Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash in connection to the software upgrade, but the statement did express the company’s condolences to the relatives of the 157 people who died.
The company said in the aftermath of Lion Air Flight crash, it has for several months “been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer.”
WATCH: Pressure mounting for Boeing after deadly Ethiopian airlines crash
— With files from the Associated Press and Reuters
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