Travellers arriving at Richardson International Airport late Wednesday morning say they were unaware they had been flying in a Boeing 737 MAX 8 — the same type of plane that was involved in a horrific crash that killed 157 and has subsequently been grounded by Transport Canada.
“I didn’t even know that it was that type of plane,” said Sue Collins, who disembarked in Winnipeg from Toronto on Tuesday. “You know, it’s funny; it crossed my mind when I got to Toronto but I didn’t pay any attention to what I was getting on to.”
Collins and the rest of the passengers were on the plane when Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau officially grounded all Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes in Canada on Tuesday just before noon.
Last week, 157 people, including 18 Canadians, died after their plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Ethiopia.
That crash marked the second catastrophic incident in six months that involved the model of airplane, prompting a wave of countries to ground their fleets, including the U.K., China, Australia, Singapore, India, South Korea, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates and others.
Ray Penner, who also got off the plane from Toronto in Winnipeg on Tuesday, said he hadn’t heard of the original crash.
“We’ve literally been in Costa Rica for six months, and to come back and realize these planes are crashing, the same planes we just flew on, it’s quite a shock. We had no idea and we’re just lucky to be alive,” said Penner.
For Krista Hobbs, hearing both she and her young daughter were on the same jet as the crash was frightening, she said.
“We made it here safe so that’s what matters. I’m not going to dwell on it, and as long as we have a different plane going home, we’re good,” Hobbs said.
“There can’t be any MAX 8 or MAX 9 flying into, out of or across Canada so that obviously affects the Canadian MAX 8s that are owned by Air Canada, West Jet and Sunwing, that own aircraft, but also have implications on airlines outside the country,” Garneau said.
Garneau had maintained earlier this week that Canada would not ground the jets because the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash is not yet clear.
Travellers flying into Winnipeg said it was alarming to hear, having just been on the plane.
“That was the first thing I saw when I opened my phone as soon as we landed,” said Kelly Dundas. “Canada grounds the plane you’re sitting in, so that was a little unnerving.”
While all the passengers were able to get off the plane, those waiting to get on had to be rescheduled to another flight.
Air Canada has 24 737 MAX 8 aircraft, while West Jet has 13 in its fleet.