Canadian air carrier WestJet Airlines, a subsidiary of Onex Corporation, announced its intentions to return its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft back to Canadian skies. The airline is eager to restart its passenger service on the 737 MAX as soon as possible and disclosed the most likely date when the jet would be ready for a safe return.
WestJet Airlines plans to take a phased approach to the re-entry of its 737 MAX jet starting from non-commercial test flights that are scheduled to begin in mid-January 2021. The airline expects that the aircraft will fulfill all the needed requirements of Transport Canada on January 21, 2020.
While waiting for Transport Canada’s validation to bring the MAX back to commercial flights in Canadian airspace, the airline plans to operate three roundtrip flights a week, between Calgary and Toronto. The schedule should remain in place for four weeks from January 21, 2020, while evaluating further routes and additional frequencies.
“As we continue working with Transport Canada on the additional Canadian requirements, our first MAX will be ready to return safely to service as of January 21,” said Ed Sims, the President and CEO of WestJet in a statement.
Sims outlined that despite the airline not having the final confirmation from the Canadian authority to operate the MAX, it still expressed a strong ‘intent to fly once the confirmation is received,” as written in the press release.
“The FAA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and numerous other regulatory bodies around the world have spent more than a year examining the MAX aircraft to provide recommended changes to software, pilot training, and maintenance requirements. We are confident about the changes they have mandated. […] The detailed scrutiny applied by Transport Canada […] provides further confidence in the aircraft and its safe return,” added Sims.
On December 17, 2020, the experts of Transport Canada validated the Boeing 737 MAX design changes and prescribed additional requirements to pilot procedures and training for Canadian air carriers. The Canadian regulator’s decision to validate the MAX design followed the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority‘s (FAA) approval to resume the 737 MAX operations on November 18, 2020.