WestJet runs first Canadian Boeing 737 Max commercial flight post-safety review
CALGARY -- WestJet shuttled 71 customers from Calgary to Vancouver Thursday morning onboard a Boeing 737 Max, the first passenger flight of the aircraft model in Canada following an investigation into safety concerns.
The aircraft were grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two fatal crashes that occurred in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
The combined death toll from the crashes was 346 people, including 18 Canadians. One of the victims was Calgarian Derick Lwugi, a 53-year-old father of three.
Transport Canada cleared the aircraft on Wednesday. The planes had been grounded in response to a software issue that caused the pilots to fight the aircraft’s control systems, resulting in a loss of altitude following takeoff.
Boeing settled a fraud charge lawsuit in the U.S. for $2.5 billion.
WestJet says it has conducted its own extensive training, testing and review of the redesigned flight control system. While pilots are confident in the safety of the aircraft, the company acknowledges it could take passengers some time to get comfortable.
The airline is offering a flexible change policy that allows people to change flights if they are scheduled to fly on a 737 Max.
Starting Jan. 22, WestJet will fly the upgraded 737 Max three times a week between Calgary and Toronto. More routes will eventually be added until all 13 of the company’s 737 Max aircraft are back in regular service.
Air Canada has 24 737 Max planes and the airline plans to return the aircraft into service on Feb. 1.