Eight Canadian families who lost loved ones in the crash of a Boeing 737 Max8 airliner met on Wednesday (February 12, 2020) with the country’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau and came away with more questions than answers from the country’s highest cabinet position that oversees the federal government’s transportation regulatory and development.
The three-hour meeting, which came after numerous requests by the families, resulted in very few answers for them but with a promise that answers to their 14 pages of questions would be forthcoming in writing from Garneau.
What was particularly disturbing for the families who attended the meeting was learning that Canadian officials likely knew of problems with the Max8 jet after the first crash in October 2018, yet did not ground the plane until after several other countries had taken action after the second crash in Ethiopia five months later. Among the questions were:
1) Why the validation system in Canada failed; 2) what can be done to change this system in Canada to ensure another tragedy will never happen again; and 3) that the MAX 8 will not fly again in Canada until our own civil aviation authority has done its own, independent, and comprehensive review on the safety of the aircraft.”
These questions were posed in a letter to Garneau as well as the families’ sentiment that, “It’s clear that the MAX 737 is not a safe aircraft. The process that Canada has in place to validate planes failed us badly and continues to be troubling. Transport Canada places too much trust in the certification process overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration, which is flawed and extremely influenced by industry. Consequently, safety is not given appropriate attention,” according to a letter sent by the families to Garneau dated February 12.
The crash in Ethiopia was the second in less than five months, March 10, 2019, of that same new jet that killed 157 people on board. The first crash occurred just after takeoff on October 30, 2018, and claimed the lives of all 189 aboard.
As to how Canada is handling the ungrounding of the Max8 aircraft, Chris Moore, father of Danielle, 24, who was killed in the Ethiopian crash, said, “Garneau’s staff is doing a comprehensive review of the flight controls and all associated equipment. He said they also will be evaluating the software with a simulator and test flights. They’ll use all possible faults in the flight envelope on the simulator and test flights; the pilots testing this will be both their own pilots and your average commercial airline pilot; however, they are not looking at other changes to the Max variant from its NG predecessor and will only consider other identified ‘grandfathered’ nonconforming items,” Moore and his wife, Clariss, were among those who attended the meeting with Njoroge.
Chris Moore went on to say, “We have likened the agency’s approach of Airworthiness directive to a person being shot in the chest – one paramedic team comes in and puts a small plastic bandage over the wound while the other team comes in and puts a bigger bandage with more absorbency, but really the person needs to go into surgery. They should have grounded the plane after JT610 [Boeing crash in October 2018] and let Boeing correct the error. It was the FAA’s and Boeing’s mistake and TCCA just followed suit. Why did my daughter have to pay for their mistake? Garneau just didn’t get it.”
The families asked if Garneau had confidence in the FAA and he responded yes, according to Chris Moore. When asked how he could be so sure, Moore said that Garneau responded, “‘because there have been so many reviews and reports and Boeing has learned their lesson.’”
The meeting was held Wednesday afternoon at the Sun Life Building, 150 King St. West, Toronto. Many family members who lost loved ones in the crash in an Ethiopian field are now preparing to make a trip to the crash site for a memorial that is scheduled on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy.
For further information, please contact Clifford Law Offices Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-721-0909 (cell).