WestJet to operate first Boeing 737 MAX flight in Canada

Shutterstock / Alex JW Robinson

After Transport Canada (TC) cleared the Boeing 737 MAX for operation, WestJet will be the first to resume commercial flights on the MAX on January 21, 2021.

After TC ungrounded the 737 MAX, WestJet is set to become the first Canadian airline to fly passengers on the type. Flight WS115 will depart from Calgary International Airport (YYC) at 7:50 am local time (UTC -7) and land in Vancouver International Airport (YVR) at 8:32 am local time (UTC -8). Upon landing in Vancouver, the company’s executives will hold a press event, according to WestJet’s press release issued on January 20, 2021.

WestJet will operate following flights with the Boeing 737 MAX between YYC and Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) three times a week round-trip. The carrier plans to add the aircraft on more routes later on. 

Since TC validated the changes to the 737 MAX in December 2020, WestJet, amongst other Canadian airlines, had prepared for its ungrounding. “Our maintenance teams will dedicate 2,000 work hours to each of our 737 MAX aircraft, implementing and testing the updates prior to them returning to service,” said John Romane, the director of Line Maintenance at WestJet at the time. 

The carrier’s Chief Pilot Jimmy-Dean Porter worked with Boeing and TC to create a MAX-specific training program for WestJet’s 737 MAX pilots. Porter himself outlined he had “complete confidence” in the MAX aircraft. Currently, the airline has 13 Boeing 737 MAXs in its fleet.

Air Canada (ADH2), which has 24 MAX jets in its fleet, plans to fly passengers on the aircraft type as soon as February 1, 2021. 

The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 following two deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The Canadian authority un-grounded the narrow-body on January 18, 2021, after it approved Boeing’s software design changes.

The 737 MAX has slowly been un-grounded across the world. Airlines, such as Aeromexico, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL), Copa Airlines and GOL Linhas Aereas have begun flying with the aircraft since December 2020. 

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