Medicine Hat News
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service
Passengers aboard the first Boeing 737 Max flight in Canadian airspace in nearly two years weren’t overly concerned about the plane’s safety, saying they trusted that regulators had addressed any issues with the aircraft.
Four people travelling on WestJet’s Thursday morning flight from Calgary to Vancouver said they had no issues boarding the Max, which was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two deadly crashes that were found to be caused by a faulty sensor.
“It’s interesting to be the first one on it, but I’m not too concerned,” said Chloe Marshall, who wasn’t aware in advance that she would be flying on the aircraft. “I think they have protocol in place and they know what they’re doing, so I just trust the process.”
As it returns the aircraft to service, WestJet has sought to ease customers’ concerns about the plane by notifying passengers in advance if they are scheduled to fly on a Max and implementing flexible policies for those who wish to rebook on another flight.
Three other passengers on Thursday’s flight to Vancouver said they had been notified of the aircraft type ahead of time. Passenger Lowell Van Zuiden pointed to the lengthy review process in explaining why he had no concerns about boarding.
“I suspect that they’ve probably gone through about as much certification, checking, and everything else as they possibly can, so I’m not worried about that,” Van Zuiden said.
WestJet flight 115 landed at Vancouver International Airport at 8:12 a.m. local time, carrying 71 passengers. Starting tomorrow, WestJet is set to begin flying the Max three times a week between Calgary and Toronto.
After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace on Wednesday, as long as operators made changes to the design of the aircraft, including allowing pilots to disable an alarm system found to be central to both crashes. Pilots will also have to undergo specialized training in flight simulators.
Upon WestJet flight 115’s arrival in Vancouver, WestJet executives held a press conference in which they celebrated the milestone and emphasized the design changes made to the aircraft since it was grounded by Transport Canada in March 2019.
“The return of WestJet’s Max aircraft marks an operational milestone after 22 months of intense review and considerable learning,” WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims said during the press conference.