Canada’s airlines plan Boeing 737 MAX flights


After Transport Canada (TC) ungrounded the Boeing 737 MAX, Canada’s airlines that have the aircraft in their fleets have begun preparations to once again fly passengers on the MAX.

The Canadian authority outlined that it would lift the notice to airmen (NOTAM), preventing the Boeing 737 MAX from entering Canada’s airspace, at 11:59 local time (UTC -6) on January 20, 2021. Including in the announcement were the steps for airlines to take if they wanted their now-un-grounded aircraft to become airworthy. Canadian operators will have to install new software on the Flight Control Computer (FCC) and MAX Display Software (MDS), amongst other things, which are identical to the conditions that the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) laid out when it ungrounded the jet in November 2020.

However, the one difference between TC and FAA will be the fact that TC requires airlines to install ivory yellow-colored buttons on the stick shaker circuit breakers (CB). TC argued that this was done to “effectively reduce pilot workload given what has been learned from the two tragic accidents.”

Airlines preparing for return

After TC validated the changes to the Boeing 737 MAX in December 2020, Canadian airlines were preparing for the return of the aircraft.

For example, WestJet outlined moves to make the 737 MAX once again airworthy in a message on January 6, 2021. According to the airline, WestJet “pilots will conduct MAX simulator training as well as extensive briefings, computer modules and evaluations,” in addition to maintenance personnel dedicating 2,000 hours to each of the carrier’s 737 MAX aircraft.

“When our regulator, Transport Canada reopens the skies to commercial flying, WestJet will have implemented all required changes, conducted our test flights and completed all regulatory-required pilot training,” stated in a message Chief Executive Officer Ed Sims.

The airline plans to fly its first commercial flight with the 737 MAX on January 21, 2021. Its first flights will be between Calgary International Airport (YYC) and Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) with a thrice-weekly round-trip flight between the two Canadian cities. According to WestJet’s statement, it will add the aircraft to additional routes on the current Winter 20/21 schedule.

Meanwhile, Air Canada (ADH2) shared its own message on January 18, 2021. The airline plans to fly passengers on the Boeing 737 MAX as soon as February 1, 2021, following the global regulators’ ungroundings and its “own independent assessments of the aircraft.”

“We are very confident the nearly two-year regulatory process undertaken by Transport Canada and other regulators worldwide ensure the utmost safety of the Boeing 737 MAX fleet from nose to tail, and from wing to wing,” Air Canada Captain and Vice President of Flight Operations Murray Storm shared his thoughts.

The de facto Canadian flag carrier will operate flights between YYZ and other Canadian destinations, such as Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Winnipeg. As more 737 MAX jets are welcomed back into the fleet, more route announcements would follow, indicated the airline.

The third carrier in Canada that has the ill-fated aircraft in its fleet is Sunwing Airlines. AeroTime News approached Sunwing about its 737 MAX plans in the near future.

Customer confidence

While airlines are relieved that the Boeing 737 MAX is finally returning, as they can utilize their assets and reduce operating costs due to the aircraft economics, passengers seemingly are not so sure about it.

At least that is what both carriers appear to think, as the pair offers customers the ability to switch their bookings if they feel uneasy about flying on the MAX.

“While we are 100 percent confident in the safety of the 737 MAX aircraft, we understand that not all guests have the same comfort level, and we will be providing flexibility to change and cancel bookings,” read WestJet’s description of its flexible change policy. 

Air Canada (ADH2) offered a similar sentiment, as the carrier outlined that it understood “that certain customers may prefer alternate travel options and we have therefore instituted flexible change and cancellation policies.”

In total, there are 41 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that the manufacturer delivered to airlines in the country. Air Canada (ADH2) currently has 24, while WestJet has 13 and Sunwing has four, according to data.


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