Canada has announced a nationwide ban on Boeing 737 MAX flights in its airspace, citing “new data” linking two deadly crashes. Info from the US federal database revealed pilots have long been complaining about the plane’s issues.
In a statement to the press, Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced that the “new data” influencing the decision came from “validated satellite tracking,” and that it suggested similarities between the two crashes involving the new Boeing jet. Although the data was sufficient to justify shutting down Canadian airspace to all flights involving the commercial jet, the minister stressed it was too soon to draw any conclusions.
“This safety notice restricts commercial passenger flights from any air operator, both domestic and foreign, of the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft from arriving, departing, or overflying Canadian airspace,” Garneau said.
Around 40 of the aircrafts were in use throughout various Canadian fleets, which has led to canceled and delayed flights across the country in the wake of the ban.
Earlier in the week, Garneau had suggested that grounding the jets would be a “premature” decision, taking a stance similar to the US’ FAA which has still not taken any action against the American-made aircraft. Garneau did not specify precisely what the new details revealed, but investigations into the US federal database show that pilots had already leveled serious complaints about the aircraft.
According to a CNN report, two American pilots reported that they had experienced issues after engaging the Max 8’s autopilot system, including the plane unexpectedly dipping into a nose-dive. The autopilot had to be disengaged for the rest of the flight.
Both the Ethiopian Airlines and the Lion Air pilots reported similar “flight-control problems” to air traffic control shortly after take-off, adding to suspicions that the problem is intrinsic to the aircraft.
‘Criminally insufficient’ flight manual
Another report complained about the woeful inadequacy of the flight manual, describing it as “inadequate and almost criminally insufficient.” The same report said that it was “unconscionable” that pilots were being expected to fly the plane with insufficient training and limited information.
Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash left 157 people dead, and followed another crash involving the same airplane model just a few months earlier in Indonesia which killed 189. While the crashes raised widespread concerns about the aircraft’s autopilot function, Boeing has repeatedly stated that the vessel is safe and airworthy.