Canada Decides to Ground Aircraft Involved in Ethiopian Airlines Crash


Days after an Ethiopian Airlines crash killed all 157 passengers—including 18 Canadians—on board a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Kenya, Transport Minister Marc Garneau has announced that Canada will be grounding the aircraft involved in the incident.

The ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines plane was the second Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane to crash in six months.

A Lion Air flight of the same make crashed minutes after taking off from Indonesia in October 2018.   

After multiple countries announced they would be grounding the aircraft until further notice, Canada held out for several days. In a March 11 tweet, Garneau said that Canada wouldn't be making a “premature decision” on the fate of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in the country.

Today (March 13), Garneau said that information received this morning prompted the government to ground the MAX 8 over safety concerns.

Prior to Garneau's announcement, Sunwing announced that it would be grounding the planes in question for commercial reasons.

When talking to reporters, Garneau said the government has received no pushback from major Canadian airlines on its decision.

"We have been in touch with Westjet, Air Canada and Sunwing. I would describe the situation as being one with no pushback this morning when we made them aware of this. They realize the importance of safety," Garneau said.

As for the data that Canada analyzed this morning, Garneau told reporters that the ministry looked at the profile in the first 10 minutes of the Ethiopian Airlines flight.

"We also drew up same profile for Lion Air one out of Indonesia. They compared those two flights against what appears to be a normal situation when an airplane takes off. You're not normally exposed to vertical fluctuations. There was anomalous behaviour in both," he said.

Garneau told reporters that the decision will cause disruptions at Canadian airports.  

"When a decision is made such as this one, it affects one class of aircraft. There is some disruption and yes it's unfortunate, but safety must be at the top of the agenda. Canadians who have flights booked on the MAX 8 will have an opportunity to speak to the airlines. There will be some disruption, there's no question about that."

Other countries that have grounded the MAX 8 include Australia, China, Brazil, the Cayman Islands, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Oman and the United Kingdom.

The United States has not yet announced plans to ground the MAX 8.

MAX 8 flights that are currently on route to Canada will be permitted to land as planned. 

Anyone who has a flight booked on a MAX 8 is encouraged to contact their airline.

It is not yet known what exactly caused the crash and when the grounded planes will be cleared to fly again.

UPDATE: The United States has also decided to ground MAX 8 aircrafts until further notice.

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