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.

Just Posted

BREAKING: West Fraser announces indefinite closure of Chasm sawmill

The third shift for the 100 Mile House location will also be eliminated

Highway 97 has reopened after single-vehicle incident

UPDATE (1:47 p.m.): The highway has reopened. CLEAR - #BCHwy97 at #BegbieSummit… Continue reading

McAbee Fossil Beds site ready to reopen to the public

Site was taken over by the Province and closed to the public in July 2012

Open houses will give residents chance to voice views on new Eco-Depot

TNRD will be answering questions, soliciting feedback about Ashcroft/Cache Creek Eco-Depot

BC Hydro scam targeting local businesses

Scammer claims to be on his way to businesses to cut the power unless payment is made

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Most Read