Canada takes first step to approve flight of new Boeing 737 Max

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After a nearly two-year ban, Transport Canada has taken the first step to clearing the Boeing 737 Max for flight again by approving the aircraft’s design changes after two fatal crashes.
In a letter obtained by CBC News, Transport Canada said it informed its US counterpart on Wednesday that it had validated a number of modifications to the aircraft with “some unique Canadian differences.”

Transport Canada confirmed this morning that the changes now validated include additional training that gives pilots the ability to deactivate a “stick shaker” – meaning a loud and intrusive warning system when the system has been shut down. mistakenly activated by a failure in the angle attack sensor system, ”according to a press release.

“This feature will help reduce pilot workload given what has been learned from the two tragic accidents and has been fully evaluated by Transport Canada flight test pilots,” Transport Canada wrote. “There will also be differences in training, including training on the enhanced cockpit procedure. ”

In October 2018, a Lion Air-owned 737 Max plunged into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff, killing all 189 passengers. In March 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines flight plunged southeast of the capital, Addis Ababa, minutes after takeoff, killing everyone on board, including 18 Canadians and a family of permanent residents in Canada. Countries around the world brought the plane to a standstill after the second crash. Canada has been criticized for being one of the last countries to do so.

Ethiopia’s investigative report pointed to Boeing, saying flaws in the plane’s design were at the root of the crash. Inaccurate sensor readings activated the MCAS anti-stall system, which pointed the plane’s nose down as pilots struggled to straighten it, according to the report.

There are a number of steps that must be taken before the Department approves the Canadian fleet to take off again with passengers on board, including the issuance of a directive outlining the design changes and requiring training. extra in a simulator for the aircrew. These and other steps are expected to take place in January 2021, the ministry wrote.

Problems with the anti-stall system

Transport Canada has worked with other regulators around the world, but said it has conducted its own independent review of modifications to the aircraft to determine if it is safe to fly again. The United States has already cleared the plane safely for flight again, and Boeing once again made its maiden flight with media on board on December 2.

Rescuers work at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 11, 2019 (Mulugeta Ayene / The Associated Press)

Last summer, the ministry’s pilots performed a series of flight tests on the updated version of the Boeing 737 Max and tested the change in procedures deemed necessary, Transport Canada’s Robinson told MPs last month.

Some families who were victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash have called on Canada to launch an independent investigation before allowing the plane to fly safely again. But families were devastated when the Liberals and Conservatives blocked the NDP’s motion to hold a public inquiry last month at the House of Commons Transport Committee studying the Max’s certification process in Canada.

“I think the plane is still not safe to fly,” Paul Njoroge said on November 24. Njoroge lost his entire family last year on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

“I still have nightmares about how my wife must have felt helpless, seeing the fear in our children’s eyes, knowing that they were about to die. ”

Chris Moore, who lost his daughter Danielle, 24, in the crash, told CBC earlier this month he still had too many unanswered questions and safety concerns for Transport Canada to allow to the plane to fly again.

He said the tragedy had “anchored” the families of the victims.

” For [our] around the world to crash like that, you can never get back on track, ”Moore said. You wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat, with your heart pounding and nightmares. ”

The committee found that Transport Canada had questions about the 737 Max as early as 2016, but Canada did not get answers from Boeing, the manufacturer or the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration before approving the aircraft. as being safe to fly, according to government documents. .

The concern document, which is part of the certification process, is a chance for the government to raise questions with its US counterpart. It’s not used to point out safety concerns, but rather to understand the work the United States is doing to certify the aircraft so it can fly, according to Transport Canada.

The documents show that Transport Canada test pilots requested more information about the aircraft’s automated anti-stall system, but did not get a response until the aircraft was cleared to fly.

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