December 22, 2020

Transport Canada validates the design changes to 737 MAX


Transport Canada aviation safety experts completed their independent review of the design changes to the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft recently certified by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). On December 17, Transport Canada announced it has now validated these changes.

Validation of the changes means that these modifications can now be incorporated on Canadian registered aircraft. However, commercial flight restrictions concerning the 737 MAX aircraft in Canadian airspace remain in effect and will not be lifted until Transport Canada is fully satisfied that all of its safety concerns have been addressed.

Transport Canada states it has worked extensively with the FAA and other key certifying authorities, including the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil (ANAC), as well as the three Canadian operators of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, and their pilot unions throughout the validation process of the aircraft. Transport Canada notes its certification experts were instrumental in guiding the aircraft design changes.

The regulator describes the 737 MAX return to service process as complex, requiring comprehensive safety plans along with additional aircraft changes, maintenance and training. Transport Canada intends to work with Canadian airline operators, crews and union associations over the coming weeks to determine how these requirements will be implemented in Canada.

Specifically, Transport Canada explains the Canadian design changes for the 737 MAX will include an enhanced flight deck procedure that provides the option for a pilot-in-command to disable a loud and intrusive warning system (commonly called the “stick shaker”) when the system has been erroneously activated by a failure in the angle of attack sensor system.

This feature will help to reduce pilot workload given what has been learned from the two tragic accidents, explains Transport Canada, and has been fully evaluated by it flight test pilots. There will also be differences in training including training on the enhanced flight deck procedure.

In January 2021, the department expects to issue a Canadian Airworthiness Directive which will stipulate the Canadian design changes that must be incorporated in Canadian aircraft. At the same time, the department will also mandate the training requirements for air crew through an Interim Order.

In other words, prior to a return to service of the aircraft in Canadian airspace, Transport Canada will require:

• Modifications to the aircraft as specified in the Canadian Airworthiness Directive;
• Incorporation of the revised pilot training syllabus into the Transport Canada-approved training program for each Canadian airline; and
• Airlines to conduct maintenance on the aircraft to ensure it will operate safely, given the aircraft have been in storage for some time.

Regulator describes the 737 MAX return to service process as complex, requiring comprehensive safety plans along with additional aircraft changes. (Photo: Boeing)