Canada grounds Boeing 737 Max 8, leaving U.S. as last major user of plane

Canada’s transportation minister on Wednesday grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 jets, saying a review of satellite-tracking data by his country’s experts found similarities between Sunday’s crash of an Ethio­pian Airlines jet and an October Lion Air crash.

The news leaves the United States and its carriers as the last major users of the aircraft.

Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he issued the “safety notice” after the newly-available data was reviewed Wednesday morning.

“At this point, we feel that that threshold has been crossed and that is why we are taking these measures,” Garneau said.

Garneau said the safety notice halts Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from arriving, departing or using Canadian airspace, effective immediately. The notice also cover the Max 9, another model in the Boeing series.

The news leaves the United States and its carriers as the last major users of the aircraft.

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Garneau said the new information reviewed Wednesday is satellite tracking data that is collected when an aircraft takes off. He said the data provides an indication of the plane’s course and its vertical profile.

“My experts have looked at this and compared it to the flight that occurred with Lion Air six months ago in October, and . . . there are similarities that sort of exceed a certain threshold in our minds with respect to the possible cause of what happened in Ethi­o­pia,” he said.

He said travelers should anticipate disruptions as flights were planned for today and coming days on the 41 planes in the country.

“There is some disruption and yes, it’s unfortunate, but we must put safety at the top of the agenda,” he said. “The airlines have been very understanding in dealing with the situation. There will be some disruption, there is no question about.”

Meanwhile, Ethio­pian Airlines said Wednesday that it will send the voice and data recorders from its ill-fated Flight 302 to be analyzed in Europe. A spokesman said the country had yet to be chosen.

Officials around the world have cited the continued absence of clear information from the plane to call for Boeing 737 Max 8 jets to be grounded.

The data from the two flight recorders are eagerly awaited as investigators look for any connection between Sunday’s crash and the October crash of Air Lion flight in Indonesia.

After China grounded the plane on Monday, most countries followed suit, including much of Europe. The latest bans were issued by India, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Hong Kong.

Ethio­pian Airlines chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam told CNN on Tuesday that the pilot reported “flight control problems” and asked to return to the airport.

Tewolde said that the boxes would be sent abroad “because we don’t have the equipment here” to analyze their data.

While Tewolde of Ethio­pian Airlines said the cause of the crash was not yet clear, hecast doubt on the airworthiness of the 737 Max.

“Two major fatal accidents on the same airplane model, brand new airplane model, in six months — so there are a lot of questions to be answered on the airplane,” he said.

In remarks to local media, Tewolde also revealed that pilots received additional training from Boeing to fly the 737 Max after an Indonesian domestic Lion Air flight crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff last year.

“After the Lion Air crash, questions were raised, so Boeing sent further instructions that it said pilots should know,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “Those relate to the specific behavior of this specific type of aircraft. As a result, training was given by Boeing, and our pilots have taken it and put it into our manuals.”

Washington Post