Expect rebooking delays says Air Canada after Boeing 737 Max 8 planes grounded – HalifaxToday.ca

Expect rebooking delays says Air Canada after Boeing 737 Max 8 planes grounded - HalifaxToday.ca
What could be wrong with the 737 Max — and what it means for Boeing
Air Canada flights from Halifax and St. John’s to London’s Heathrow Airport have been cancelled following Transport Canada’s announcement that all Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets are banned from the country’s airspace.

The airline says it is making adjustments to its flight schedules and, in the short-term, will be rerouting those who wish to fly on either route by connecting passengers to flights leaving from either Montreal or Toronto.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he made the move to restrict Boeings 737 Max in Canada after comparing satellite tracking data on the final moments of the Ethiopian airplane with that of the Lion Air plane, which the pilot struggled to control. My experts have looked at this and compared it to the [flight path of] Lion Air in October and there are similarities that exceed a certain threshold in our minds with respect to the possible cause of what happened in Ethiopia, Mr. Garneau said, adding the information is not conclusive and needs to be confirmed by the flight recorder data.

FYI – the Air Canada routes from Halifax to London and St. John's to London's Heathrow Airport have been cancelled for the short-term, while passengers will be rerouted through the Montreal and Toronto Airports.

Virginia-based Aireon supplied the data to Canada, the United States and other countries that requested it, said Jessie Hillenbrand, a spokeswoman for the company that provides satellite-based aircraft-tracking services to several global air-traffic authorities. Ms. Hillenbrand said in an interview that Canadian officials received the tracking information on Tuesday evening, while the United States requested it and received it on Monday.

“We are making adjustments to our schedule to minimize the disruption to customers as much as possible by optimizing the deployment of the rest of our fleet and looking at alternative options, including accommodating customers on other airlines,” said Air Canada spokesperson Isabelle Arthur in an emailed statement.

Steve Morgan and his family had just boarded an Air Canada 737 Max 8 at the Vancouver airport Wednesday morning when their flight crew announced that everyone would have to get off. Mr. Morgan had been aware that the Transportation Minister was holding a press conference right around their boarding time, so he had been bracing for the possibility that their travel plans could change.

There was some disruption at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Wednesday afternoon after Transport Canada’s announcement that all Boeing 737 MAX 8s were grounded.

Passengers waiting to board a 2 p.m. flight to Toronto were at the gate when they found out — many from their cellphones — as the news broke on social media.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced the decision in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday that killed all 157 passengers aboard, including 18 Canadians.

Canada made the decision Wednesday, after receiving the tracking information Tuesday evening. The United States received the information on Monday. However, some flight-tracking websites such as flightradar24 showed data as early as Sunday that the flight had unstable vertical speeds, an indication that the pilots could not control the aircraft.

The Ethiopian Airlines crash marked the second deadly incident in six months involving the Boeing 737 MAX 8, the first being the Lion Air crash in October 2018, which killed 189 people in Indonesia.

Halifax airport officials say two routes are affected by the Transport Canada decision as well as all Air Canada flights to Toronto and London.

Airport officials are asking customers to contact the airlines from which they’ve purchased tickets to get updates regarding their flight information.

“We are in contact with Air Canada and any other airline that might be using this aircraft going forward to determine what their contingency plan is and to support them in that so they can continue with their service from Halifax Stanfield,” said communications manager Tiffany Chase with Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

Transport Minister had no choice but to ground planes, expert says

Air Canada flight 615 to Toronto from Halifax is cancelled. Following transportation minister Marc Garneaus announcement that all domestic & foreign Boeing 737 Max 8 flights will be temporarily grounded and not able to fly in Canada airspace. pic.twitter.com/qcVStJhDZT

Sharon Barnes, a passenger at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, said she agreed with grounding the planes. "I think it was the right decision given that the rest of the world is doing the same thing, and its a prudent thing to be doing until we know more about whats going on," she said.

Some customers who were grounded in Halifax on Wednesday had to scramble to make alternative flight plans, with Brian Wentzell telling Global News that he stands to lose thousands as flight delays could cause him to miss the boarding call for a cruise he had planned along the Mediterranean.

But President Donald Trump, who announced the grounding, was briefed Wednesday on new developments by Elwell and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and they determined the planes should be grounded, the White House said. Trump spoke afterward with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg and Boeing signed on.

“Just a few minutes before I was expecting to board, they come out and said it was cancelled. The decision was made in Ottawa to cancel those flights and so I was caught in it,” said Wentzell, who planned to fly to Toronto and then connect to a flight to Italy.

“We are supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution,” the statement said. “Safety is a core value at Boeing for as long as we have been building airplanes; and it always will be. There is no greater priority for our company and our industry. We are doing everything we can to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again.”

“I had two cruises back-to-back so I’m out, right now, at least $3,000, and plus this (flight cancellation), at least four or five thousand,” he added.

Ethiopian crash black boxes arrive in Paris for analysis

Cathy Fancy said the cancellation will cut her week-long vacation down a day but said she’s OK with that.

“If they feel there’s information that’s strong enough to influence them to take it out of service for now then I’m happy,” she said.

President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that the US would join Europe and many countries outside the continent in grounding all Boeing 737 Max airplanes after the model was involved in a deadly crash for the second time on Sunday.

Video: Pilots, FAA knew there was a problem with the Boeing 737 Max 8: Licensed commercial pilot says

“I’m here, I’m rebooked on another flight for tomorrow…so it’s all good.”

“We do not anticipate a significant operational impact as a result of this order,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to work with our customers to help minimize any disruption to their travel.”

Air Canada says it’s working with customers to rebook flights, but it’s not clear when regular flights from Halifax and St. John’s to London will resume.

Ethiopia crash probe starting in France, families grieve

When it launched in 2016, the 737 Max was U.S. jet-maker Boeing's best weapon in the war for market share with European rival Airbus. The two companies compete head-on for the biggest slice of that market — booming demand for narrow-body jets that can carry 170 or more people across long distances while using as little jet fuel as possible.

“When the FAA makes a decision like grounding airplanes, any safety decision of that magnitude, we do it based on data,” he added. “Were a data-driven organization, its why US aviation has been so incredibly safe and frankly why aviation has been safe around the world — you have to establish at least more than a gut feeling that two crashes are related before you ground an entire fleet.”

Boeing's 737 is the yin to the yang of the Airbus A320, and both planes have been workhorses of global air travel for a generation. Both models were looking a little long in the tooth about a decade ago, but since they were both still selling well, neither company was in a rush to build a new model, said Rob Rennert, who runs aviation consultancy Elevate.

Then, Canada's Bombardier came out with plans to build what would come to be known as the C Series, "and it was a game changer," Rennert said. "They realized that they had to respond [but] they didn't want to spend the money building a whole new plane, so instead they made incremental improvements on existing ones."

The result was Airbus's creation of the A320 NEO — an acronym for "new engine option" — and Boeing's 737 Max, both of which were well received by the market, booking brisk sales.

Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told The New York Times in an article published Wednesday that he planned to seek copies of “all relevant communications” between the company and the governments aviation regulator.

In barely two years since first deliveries of the jet started in early 2017, Boeing has put almost 400 Max jets into service, all of which are now flying under a dark cloud of uncertainty after an Ethiopian Airlines Max jet crashed shortly after takeoff, killing 157 people on board, including 18 Canadians. 

The committee reportedly plans to focus on the Federal Aviation Administrations certification of the 737 Max and why the agency did not require more training on the updated version of the plane.

Coming on the heels of another crash in Indonesia last fall, regulators around the world have grounded the jet pending an investigation.

Ethiopia crash black boxes arrive in France for analysis

The Max is just the latest iteration of the original 737, the best-selling commercial jet of all time. But while it shares the 737 name, aviation experts say there are a few design changes in the Max that may be contributing to the sudden tarnishing of that iconic name.

Fuel efficiency is the name of the game for modern airlines, and the best way to make a plane better on gas is to give it a bigger engine.

The Max jets boast engine fans that are eight inches (20.3 centimetres) wider than the previous model. To accommodate the bigger engines, "they moved them further forward and further up" on the wing, aviation consultant Keith Mackey said. "And when they did that they changed the centre of gravity."

Other African airlines have made similar decisions to ground the airplane or reconsider purchases. A South African airline, Comair, announced Monday that it was removing its only Max 8 from its flight schedule. It said it remains confident in the planes safety, but decided to halt the flights while it consults with other operators, Boeing and technical experts.

Booked a flight for future travel? Heres how you can tell if you were on a Boeing 737 Max 8 — and what you can do about it

"And if it pitches up too far the plane can stall," she said on CBC's Front Burner podcast on Wednesday.

That would be an unexpected problem to anyone familiar with the older 737, which is why Boeing tried to proactively override it by installing software on the planes that would push the nose of the plane back down when the system detected something wrong.

The United States and Canada moved to ground the Max 8 on Wednesday, at least a day after many countries – including China, Australia, Germany, France and Britain – had already taken that step. Before the U.S. and Canadian actions, the two countries were largely isolated in allowing the Max 8s to continue flying.

U.S. pilots had reported instances of it happening but managed to assess what was going on and override the autopilot when necessary. But he says less-trained, less-experienced pilots outside Europe and North America are less likely to adjust if something goes awry.

"They depend on automation," he said. "And when something like that happens, I don't know whether they would know whether to disconnect the autopilot or just try to override it."

"We are supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution. Safety is a core value at Boeing for as long as we have been building airplanes; and it always will be. There is no greater priority for our company and our industry," it said in a statement, though said it has "full confidence" in the models. 

Instead of the onerous testing that would be needed on a truly new plane, Boeing simply added a section about the software to the plane's manual, and offered extra training on the jet if requested. Schiavo, a former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation, says that's not good enough.

Air Canada and WestJet Airlines operate a total of 37 Boeing 737 Max 8 jets. Sunwing, which operates four Max 8s, said Tuesday it was suspending use of the jets but said the decision was not related to safety and was instead about "evolving commercial reasons" such as airspace restrictions imposed by some destinations.

Video: President Trump announces US is grounding Boeing 737 Max 8s, 9s after crash | ABC News

"You can't troubleshoot an aircraft full of passengers on takeoff. It's the most dangerous part of the flight, and you can't tell a pilot, 'If this goes wrong, you fix it'," she said.

Canada had held off grounding the plane until Wednesday, when Garneau said he received new satellite data that suggested similarities between the flight profiles of the Ethiopian jet and that of a Lion Air plane of the same type that crashed in Indonesia last year. Both planes crashed shortly after takeoff.

Video: Boeing wants suspension of entire global fleet of 737 MAX | Al Jazeera English

Anthony Roman, president of the risk management and investigation firm Roman and Associates, says Boeing has done more than anyone over the years to improve plane safety. But even he says the company's moves with the 737 Max have been lacking.

In November, an incident was reported to the NASA-run Aviation Safety Reporting Database that involved difficulty controlling the 737 Max at low altitude just after takeoff with autopilot engaged, according to documents first published by the Dallas Morning News and verified by Reuters.

Part of the the industry's reluctance toward more training is likely the enormous cost associated with it, Roman said. 

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the United States would order the grounding of the aircraft, becoming the last major country in the world to do so. Until now, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration had said it didn't have any data to show the jets are unsafe.

"We cannot count dollars when it comes to pilot training and preparing pilot flight manuals so that they fully understand how the systems work and how to deal with emergencies," he said in an interview.

Boeing said the investigation into the crash remains in its early stages. The company, which earlier said it had no basis to issue new guidance to operators announced late Wednesday it would temporarily ground its entire fleet 737 Max aircraft, which it said number 371 globally. 

Aviation stocks take a hit after US grounds 737 Max

Schiavo said Boeing is financially vulnerable if there's a systemic problem that needs fixing with its jet, just as a carmaker is on the hook when regulators demand safety recalls of their automobiles. "If they can do it piecemeal over a period of months rather than all at once it is much less expensive," she said, but now that the jet has been grounded virtually worldwide Boeing could be facing a significant up-front costs.

Ethiopian crash: France accepts black box analysis, US grounds Boeing

The Ethiopian Airlines disaster was without question a human tragedy first and foremost. But the repercussions of the crash are already having some serious financial consequences for Boeing.

Possible links between the accidents have rocked the aviation industry, scared passengers worldwide, and left the worlds biggest planemaker scrambling to prove the safety of a money-spinning model intended to be the standard for decades.

The company's shares have fallen by more than 13 per cent since Saturday's crash, the company's worst stumble since the financial crisis.

After an apparent tussle over where the investigation should be held, the flight data and cockpit voice recorders arrived in Paris and were handed over to Frances Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) agency.

Boeing 737 Max grounded after investigators find similarities between crashes

That's likely because investors are well aware of how critical the Max jet is for the plane-maker's future.

Boeing is on track to rake in just over $110 billion US this year in revenue from selling planes. But more than a third of its profits will come from the 580 Max jets the company was on track to deliver this year, more than twice what they sold in 2018. There are 5,000 more — more than $600 billion worth — on back order, according to Bloomberg data.

A BEA spokesman said he did not know what condition the black boxes were in. First we will try to read the data, he said, adding that the first analyses could take between half a day and several days.

MCAS and the 737: When Small Changes have Huge Consequences

Bloomberg aerospace analyst George Ferguson said if the company has to come up with a full replacement for the 737, that could cost it $10 billion or more. "Reaction by fliers and governments globally is likely to hurt market share if the airplane's systems aren't updated quickly and confidence restored," he said.

Meanwhile, investigators in France took possession of the crashed Ethiopian Airlines jets black boxes on Thursday, seeking clues into a disaster that has grounded Boeings global 737 MAX fleet.

But ultimately, whatever financial cost the company must pay today could well help them in the long run, Roman said.

"I think it will be a short-term economic impact for them. and that may be appropriate because it helps drive future decisions for safety," he said.

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