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

COLUMN: Looking back to a time of optimism

The first lunar landing 50 years ago was a time to celebrate dreams and accomplishments

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Showers to start weekend, sun returning soon

Environment Canada forecasts rain on Saturday and the heat returning next week

UPDATE: Penticton resident’s dog found safe

Nicholas Bozak thanks the public for finding his 17 month old mastiff chow

Survivorship Dragon Boat Team wins in Vernon

Team takes top spot in A division at festival

RDOS contributes funds to arts centre workshop

South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre Society wants input into proposed facility

July showers wash out half of the Okanagan’s cherry crop

Cherry growers say this is the worst season they’ve seen in decades

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Okanagan e-scooter company foils robberies

OGO Scooters staff helped return stolen property three times in 1st week of operations in Kelowna

Olympian brings women empowerment in sports to the Okanagan

Two-time medalist Natalie Spooner joined the Girls Rock the Rink event in Kelowna

Okanagan school district monitoring McCurdy supportive housing plan debate

Top priority for board of education is to maintain safety integrity of local schools

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

Most Read