Today, Canada became the latest country to decide to ground Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. It cited potential safety concerns after an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing MAX crashed last Sunday, killing all of the 157 passengers aboard.
The move means that the United States is currently the only major country where the planes are now operating.
Marc Garneau, the Transport Minister of Canada, informed a news conference that Ottawa would stop the 737 MAX 8 and 9 jets from leaving, arriving in or flying over the country.
He stated: “This safety notice is effective immediately and will remain in place until further notice.” He added that he had decided to act after receiving new information earlier in the day.
The ban is remarkable, since Canada normally works very closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States. Garneau said that there had been “absolutely no political pressure” from Washington after Canada notified it of the grounding.
He said that satellite data implied some similarities between the flight profiles of the Ethiopian jet and that of a Lion Air plane of the same type that crashed in Indonesia in 2018. Both of the planes crashed shortly after takeoff.
He stated: “This is not conclusive, but it is something that points possibly in that direction and at this point, we feel that threshold has been crossed and that is why we are taking these measures.”
An official of the United States of America informed Reuters the FAA was aware of the satellite data that was cited by Garneau, however, it said that it was inconclusive.
Air Canada operates 24 Boeing 737 MAX jets. It said that it was working to re-book passengers as quickly as possible. On the other hand, rival WestJet Airlines Ltd, which operates 13 of the jets, said that it would comply with the order.
The Air Canada Pilots Association which represents over 4,000 commercial pilots, said that the decision was “important to ensure continued public confidence in aviation.”