Westjet stands behind Boeing 737 Max 8 fleet

Westjet operates a fleet of 13 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft (photo: Westjet).

Ethiopian Airlines grounded its fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8s, Sunday, after a crash that killed 157 people, including 18 Canadians.

“Although we don’t yet know the cause of the accident,” said the airline in a statement, “we had to decide to ground the particular fleet as extra safety precaution.”

Despite the growing number of airlines and countries raising questions about the aircraft, Westjet is standing behind its fleet of 13 Boeing 737 Max 8s.

“WestJet remains confident in the safety of our Boeing 737 fleet including our 13 MAX-8 aircraft first introduced in 2017,” said spokesperson Lauren Stewart in an e-mail. “We have flown five different variants of the Boeing 737 since 1996, and the fleet currently operates around 450 safe daily B737 departures.”

The crash in Ethiopia bears eery similarities to a Lion Air crash in October in Indonesia that killed 189 people. In both crashes, the planes rose and dropped before finally crashing. The similarity led the Civil Aviation Authority of China to ground the country’s fleet of approximately 100 Max 8s.

“In line with the management principle of zero tolerance for safety hazards and strict control of safety risks,” said the CAAC on its website, “in order to ensure the flight of civil aviation in China Security, at 9:00 on March 11, the Civil Aviation Administration issued a notice requesting domestic transportation airlines to suspend the commercial operation of the Boeing 737-8 aircraft before 18:00 on March 11, 2019.”

Caymen Airways also grounded its fleet of two 737 Max 8s, and the incidents have led some to question the safety of the aircraft in Canada.

One passenger, Anthony Falls, tweeted that he would be returning to Edmonton from Puerto Vaillarta tomorrow on a Westjet MAX 8.

“Is there any concern flying this aircraft?” he wondered.

“WestJet sends heartfelt condolences to those friends and family whose loved ones were on board Ethiopian Airlines flight 302,” said Stewart. “We are monitoring the situation closely and will not speculate on the cause of the incident.”

Air Canada flies 24 Max 8s, with another 31 on order. Sunwing operates a fleet of three Max 8s, representing less than eight per cent of the fleet.

A Sunwing Airlines Boeing 737-800 departs Vancouver March 4, 2019 (photo: Brett Ballah).

Westjet flies a fleet of 121 Boeing 737s of different types.