An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft departing for Calgary taxis to a runway at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Air Canada, WestJet purchased safety option reportedly missing on crashed planes

The safety features are not standard on the aircraft and are offered by Boeing as upgrades

Canada’s two largest airlines have at least one of the optional safety features on their Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft that were reportedly lacking on the jets that crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Air Canada and WestJet Airlines both say they purchased disagree lights used by the aircraft’s software system during flight to avert stalls.

The New York Times has reported the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air jets involved in recent fatal crashes were not equipped with angle of attack indicators and disagree lights.

The safety features are not standard on the aircraft and are offered by Boeing as upgrades.

Air Canada spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur said the country’s largest airline purchased both safety features for its fleet of 24 Max 8 planes.

However, WestJet spokeswoman Morgan Bell said the Calgary-based airline’s 13 Max 8 planes are not configured with the angle of attack indicators.

She said the disagree light was purchased so the new aircraft will have common configurations with its Boeing 737 NG fleet.

Neither airline would disclose the cost of purchasing these options.

READ MORE: WestJet suspends 2019 financial guidance after Boeing 737 Max grounded

Neither Sunwing Airlines, which has four Max 8s, nor Boeing responded to requests for comment.

Norwegian Air, which is preparing to launch Canadian service to Europe on March 31, says it hasn’t added the optional extra because it is “not a critical safety feature nor is it a requirement by any aviation authority.”

“We are in close dialogue with Boeing and follow their and the aviation authorities’ instructions and recommendations, we immediately implement all safety recommendations as required,” stated acting chief operating officer Tomas Hesthammer.

The discount carrier said it is working on using other aircraft to cover the route but said it is too early to tell how the grounding of the Boeing planes will impact its operations in the coming months.

The safety indicators help pilots detect any erroneous readings from two vanelike sensors that determine the position of the plane’s nose relative to oncoming air.

The angle of attack indicator displays the readings of the two sensors while the disagree light is activated if the sensors don’t provide the same information, the U.S. daily said.

The MCAS system can automatically push the plane’s nose down to prevent stalling if it determines it is pointing up at a dangerous level.

The New York Times also said, citing unnamed sources, that Boeing will soon update the MCAS software and make the disagree light standard on all new 737 Max planes, but maintain the angle of attack indicator as an option.

Boeing is rushing to complete the upgrades on jets by early next week, according to a person familiar with the changes.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Boeing and federal regulators are still discussing details of the upgrade to the Max fleet, which was grounded worldwide after a second deadly crash this month in Ethiopia.

The causes of the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 and the Lion Air crash five months earlier, both on takeoff, are being investigated. Investigators are looking at whether a new software system added to avoid stalls may have been a contributing factor.

READ MORE: Air Canada grounds its Boeing Max 8s until at least July 1 to provide certainty

Air Canada has removed its grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 jets from service until at least July 1 in order to provide more certainty for passengers who wish to book flights in the coming months.

Both Air Canada and WestJet have suspended their 2019 financial guidances.

— With files from The Associated Press

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mugshots Cafe: renovated and reopened

The Fernie-favourite once again has its doors open to the public

Pick all your apples and save the bears

As summer ends, bears become more active looking for food

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

B.C. Premier announces fall election

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka reacts to election announcement

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 31 active cases in isolation in the health region

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Totem pole considered cultural appropriation removed from Nelson’s Hume School

The pole had also become rotted and was seen as dangerous to students

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

Most Read