Boeing 737 Max 8 barred from Canadian airspace


Canada’s transport minister announced Wednesday an immediate ban on Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 jets based on new information.

“This safety notice restricts commercial passenger flights from any air operator, both domestic and foreign, of the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft from arriving, departing, or overflying Canadian airspace,” Marc Garneau told reporters.

Three Canadian carriers - Air Canada, WestJet and Sunwing - operate a total 41 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

Sunwing, which is based in Toronto, said earlier that it was going to ground its four Boeing 737 Max 8 planes for “evolving commercial reasons,” referring to airspace restrictions imposed by the United Kingdom and numerous European nations.

As recently as Tuesday, Canada’s government said it had no plans to bar the planes in the wake of last weekend’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8, which resulted in the deaths of all 157 people aboard, including 18 Canadians.

The reversal came after the transport department received fresh data indicating parallels between the Ethiopian Airlines accident and the deadly crash of a Lion Air 737 Max 8 last October in the waters off the coast of Indonesia, Garneau said.

“There are - and I hasten to say not conclusive - but there are similarities,” the minister said. “My departmental officials continue to monitor the situation and I will not hesitate to take swift action should we discover any additional safety issues.”

A final judgment must await analysis of the data from the black box flight recorders of the Ethiopian Airlines plane, Garneau said.

Air Canada said that it was working to find alternatives for passengers affected by the prohibition, while urging patience.

The airline said that its 737 Max planes carry anywhere from 9,000 to 12,000 passengers on any given day.

Garneau’s announcement was greeted with approval from the union that represents Air Canada’s 8,500 flight attendants.

“In light of the new data received by the federal government, we welcome the minister’s decision to err on the side of prudence until the analysis of the causes of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash is completed,” CUPE spokesperson Wesley Lesosky said.