Transport Canada conducting tests on the Boeing 737 Max this week

A Boeing 737 MAX airplane lands after a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, on June 29, 2020.

Karen Ducey/Reuters

Transport Canada officials are testing the Boeing 737 Max this week, as the regulator takes unusual steps to ensure the safety of control system changes made to the model grounded worldwide after two fatal crashes.

The test flights are long-awaited steps for an aircraft that has been out of commission since March, 2019, after two crashes in five months killed a total of 346 people in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Canada and the United States were among the last regulators to order the model out of service.

Investigators linked the Max crashes to the planes’ control systems, which were redesigned for the new version. In both crashes – flights flown by Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines – cockpit recordings showed the pilots lost control shortly after takeoff.

Story continues below advertisement

Canada and other countries’ regulators are departing from traditional approval procedures in the case of the Max, conducting their own tests and approvals instead of relying on certification by the U.S. regulator of the airworthiness of the U.S.-made passenger jet.

Transport Canada employees recently conducted evaluations on Boeing’s Max flight simulator in Seattle and will conduct test flights in U.S. air space this week.

“Transport Canada will determine, through its own independent review, whether to validate the proposed changes by Boeing,” Frédérica Dupuis, a Transport Canada spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “As part of this review, Transport Canada will conduct engineered simulator evaluations and aircraft flight tests.

“These tests will validate key areas of the [U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s] certification, and will provide a first-hand assessment for Transport Canada’s independent review.”

Ms. Dupuis declined to provide the flight schedule or location, citing security and privacy reasons.

Because of COVID-19 precautions, the test plane will fly to Vancouver to allow the Canadians to board, then return to the U.S. for the flights. The Max will then fly back to Vancouver to drop off the Canadians.

“Transport Canada is reviewing the Boeing 737 Max 8 changes while working extensively with the state of design, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, and civil aviation authorities in Europe and Brazil toward the goal of a global return to service for the aircraft,” Ms. Dupuis said.

Story continues below advertisement

Boeing did not answer questions on the flight schedule and locations.

“Boeing continues to work with regulators to conduct their respective validation flights and simulator tests in order to better understand enhancements to the airplane,” said Peter Pedraza, a Boeing spokesman.

The 737 Max, first delivered in 2017, is an updated version of a plane that first flew in the 1960s and became a mainstay of the global commercial airline fleet.

The Max quickly became Boeing’s best seller, with orders for more than 5,000. At the time the planes were grounded, Air Canada had 24 Maxes with several more on order; WestJet had 13, while Sunwing Airlines had four.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

You may also like...