General aviation

737 MAX certification coming ‘very soon’ in Canada


Minister says Canadian approach to the 737 MAX will include additional training and flight deck procedures

Federal Aviation Administration approves the type’s return to service with several modifications

737 MAX certification
An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX departs Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 (photo: Brett Ballah).

Canada’s Transport Minister said Wednesday that Boeing 737 MAX certification was expected ‘very soon’, though not immediately, despite approval in the United States.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved the MAX’s return to the skies Wednesday. The administration imposed a number of conditions on operators before they can fly their MAX aircraft. Among them:

  • New operating procedures
  • New flight control computer software
  • Revised flight manuals
  • Installing new display software
  • Changing the horizontal stabilizer trim wire routing
  • Completing an angle of attack sensor system test
  • Performing an operational readiness flight.

“The path that led us to this point was long and gruelling,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson in a statement. “We said from the start that we would take the time necessary to get this right.”

In Canada, that process will take a bit longer.

“Transport Canada has worked extensively with the FAA and other key certifying authorities, including the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil (ANAC), as well as the three Canadian operators of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, and their pilot unions throughout the validation process of the aircraft to address all factors necessary toward a safe return to service of the aircraft,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement.

Regulators around the world grounded the MAX March 2019 after a pair of fatal crashes, killing 346 people. Investigators pointed to software used to control the aircraft in certain phases of flight and faulty readings as contributing factors.

The type remains grounded in Canada, for now.

Independent validation

Canada’s airlines had 41 MAX aircraft in service when the fleet was grounded. Air Canada, Westjet, and Sunwing all have MAX aircraft in their fleets. Boeing has built additional airframes since then, but they haven’t been delivered.

“The FAA’s directive is an important milestone,” said Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We will continue to work with regulators around the world and our customers to return the airplane back into service worldwide.”

A video statement by FAA Administrator Steve Dickson announcing the Boeing 737 MAX’s ungrounding.

“Transport Canada safety experts continue their independent validation process to determine whether to approve the proposed changes to the aircraft,” said Garneau. “We expect this process to conclude very soon. However, there will be differences between what the FAA has approved today, and what Canada will require for its operators. These differences will include additional procedures on the flight deck and pre-flight, as well as differences in training.”

Confidence in the process

Westjet said Wednesday it had confidence in the 737 MAX certification process.

“The work by Transport Canada and other independent regulators around the globe, in combination with our own preparation, processes and due diligence, gives us confidence in returning these aircraft to service once Transport Canada opens the skies to the MAX,” spokesperson Morgan Bell said in an email.

Bell said Westjet would only return the MAX to service once it meets requirements and the airline is certain the aircraft are safe.

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