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Boeing 737 MAX Update: CEO Says Software Update and Pilot Training Coming
Six days after the U.S. and Canada joined almost all other major countries in pulling Boeing’s 737 MAX jets from the skies, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has issued a statement on the two crashes that led up to the decision — the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
“Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing, and ensuring safe and reliable travel on our airplanes is an enduring value and our absolute commitment to everyone,” Muilenburg said in a videotaped statement.
“Based on facts from the Lion Air Flight 610 accident and emerging data as it becomes available from the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident, we're taking actions to fully ensure the safety of the 737 MAX.”
According to Muilenburg, Boeing is gathering information from the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from the Ethiopian Airlines plane. Additional details will be released after approval by the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau.
Boeing, along with U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and more governing bodies, are still searching for answers as to what exactly caused the two jets to crash — the Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX crashed into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX crashed less than five months after that. Both were new aircraft.
American carriers most affected by the jets are still being impacted as of Tuesday — American Airlines canceled 121 flights on Tuesday and Southwest canceled 85 flights, according to FlightAware (those cancellations are not all solely due to the 737 MAX ban). Those numbers follow the 164 cancellations by Southwest and 101 cancellations by American on Monday.
Both American and Southwest are rerouting other aircraft and shifting its routes to try to cover for the absences.
United Airlines: Had a schedule of roughly 40 flights a day with the MAX jets, did not expect a “significant operational impact” when the news first broke and it has continued to operate mostly on or near schedule.
Sunwing: Sunwing Airlines has taken the decision to temporarily suspend the operations of their 4 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. They are in the process of revising their flying schedule to accommodate the temporary removal of their four MAX aircraft. They will endeavor to minimize the impact of these schedule changes, which they believe is achievable given that the MAX 8 makes up less than 10% of their fleet.
WestJet: Complied with Transport Canada’s grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX fleet on March 13 and since that time, they have been working diligently to minimize the impact to their guests who have been affected by this grounding.
Air Canada: Was one of the carriers most impacted by the decision to pull the MAX jets from the sky last week. The carrier was forced to ground all of its 24 MAX jets and had to account for the six new MAX jets that were expected to be delivered in March and April.
Despite these fleet challenges, their completion factor (the percentage of flights completed) is 98 per cent and more than 80 per cent of their flights are arriving within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival time.
With no concrete date for the reintroduction of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to its fleet, Air Canada updated its schedule on Thursday through Aug. 1, in order to give its travelers “full confidence” for the busy summer travel season.
"With the continued grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, Air Canada is prudently adjusting its schedule and is finalizing arrangements for additional aircraft to transport customers to their destinations,” Air Canada Executive Vice President and COO Lucie Guillemette said.
“We understand the importance our customers attach to their summer travel, and through the actions we are announcing today, Air Canada now has in place a schedule and the capacity to meet travelers’ needs.”
Air Canada, along with other U.S. airlines including Southwest and United, has been dealing with the absence of the aircraft from its fleet since Mar. 13, the date that both the Canadian and U.S. governments announced the groundings. Air Canada’s fleet included 24 of the 737 MAX jets, with another 12 set to be delivered in July.
In the absence of the expected fleet additions, Air Canada has been substituting different aircraft on the 737 MAX routes, including three Airbus A320 and three Embraer 190, all of which were scheduled to leave the fleet before Air Canada extended the leases because of the MAX absences.
The new schedule includes adjustments for days and times and delays of some seasonal routes, including the Montreal to Bordeaux service that was scheduled to launch June 15 (now July 1) and the Vancouver to Boston service that will now start June 20 instead of June 1. Other routes will be flown with different aircraft, including the Montreal to Los Angeles service (Airbus A330) and the Toronto and Montreal flights to Keflavik (Air Canada Rouge A319s).
Air Canada has suspended a small number of routes because of the groundings — Toronto to Shannon, Toronto to Abbotsford, and Calgary to London, Ontario, have all been suspended for the summer season. Air Canada expects to resume those routes next summer.
For any traveler impacted by the new schedule, Air Canada is offering a full fee waiver and refund option.