Transport Minister Marc Garneau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday March 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Garneau calls for flight simulators before Max 8s can return to Canadian skies

Transport Minister closed Canadian skies to the Max 8 last month over safety concerns

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says airlines hoping to fly the Boeing 737 Max 8 in Canadian airspace must first train their pilots using a flight simulator.

The call goes further than recommendations from U.S. regulators as training procedures for the grounded plane come under continued scrutiny following two deadly crashes.

READ MORE: Garneau to update Canada’s position on Boeing 737 Max 8 as pressure mounts

“Simulators are the very best way, from a training point of view, to go over exactly what could happen in a real way and to react properly to it,” Garneau said.

“It’s part of it — the software fixes…and the training itself, which in my mind requires simulation time,” he said at an event in Montreal Wednesday.

Garneau’s comments highlight the potential hurdles to landing on a common set of standards and getting the Max 8 back into the air.

Until recently, most U.S. airlines did not require flight simulation for pilots of the Max 8, which aviation authorities across the globe grounded in the wake of the deadly Ethiopian Airlines tragedy on March 10. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that American Airlines will start to use flight simulators, a significant shift.

“As a result of the continuing investigation into both aircraft accidents, we are looking at the potential for additional training opportunities in co-ordination with the FAA and Allied Pilots Association,” American Airlines said in an email Wednesday.

On Tuesday, however, a panel appointed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said pilots will not need new training on flight simulators to learn how to operate the Boeing jet. The group said in a draft report that computer and classroom instruction about new anti-stall software should be adequate for pilots who have flown earlier versions of the 737.

Garneau said he feels “strongly about simulators,” stressing their effectiveness and drawing on his experience as an astronaut.

“From our point of view, it’s not going to be a question of pulling out an iPad and spending an hour on it,” he added, referencing an American Airlines pilots union statement that pilots who were already qualified for Boeing 737-800s took a one-hour, iPad-based training program to fly the Max 8.

Garneau closed Canadian skies to the Max 8 last month over safety concerns arising from the erratic flight path of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that bore startling parallels to a fatal Lion Air crash off the coast of Indonesia on Oct. 29.

The two flights, both on Max 8s, killed a total of 346 people, including 18 Canadians on board the Ethiopian Airlines flight.

The global grounding of more than 375 Max 8s has impacted scores of airlines, including Air Canada, WestJet Airlines Inc. and Sunwing Airlines Inc.

Air Canada — where 24 Max 8s make up about 10 per cent of its main 243-plane fleet — froze its sunny 2019 financial guidance last month “in light of the current uncertainty.” Older replacement aircraft such as the Airbus A320 are not as fuel efficient and others can only avoid maintenance for so long before heading back to the hangar, further reducing capacity.

Garneau’s remarks came after an announcement highlighting new incentives to buy electric cars.

Starting next month, Canadians who buy or lease an eligible electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will get $5,000 off the purchase, Garneau said. Shorter-range plug-in hybrid cars come with a $2,500 incentive.

The minister said Transport Canada is working out the logistics of the discount “at lightning speed,” with plans on how to dole it out still uncertain as the clock ticks down to May 1.

The 2019 budget set aside $300 million for the federal purchase incentive.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Rain raises water levels in Cowichan Lake

Possibility that pumps could be shut down soon

Caps beat Chiefs at home, then bow to Kings

Injuries, suspensions, travel all effect trip to Powell River

Cowichan residents invited to apply for seats on affordable housing committees

“Lack of affordable housing is a critical issue in the Cowichan region”

Vandalism reports at two Duncan campaign headquarters

Offices of NDP Alistair MacGregor and Liberal Blair Herbert targeted

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Man who crushed Nanaimo RCMP cars with stolen truck gets more jail time

Majore Jackson, 34, sentenced to two more years in jail in provincial court in Nanaimo

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

B.C. Ferries wants input on concepts for a Horseshoe Bay terminal re-design

Ferry corporation accepting public feedback until Oct. 13

Most Read