Canada is joining the growing swell of countries grounding Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 jets after a deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash over the weekend.
That crash marked the second catastrophic incident involving the model of airplane in six months and prompted a wave of countries to ground the fleets, including the U.K., China, Australia, Singapore, India, South Korea, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates and others.
The European Union also banned the jets from flying in European airspace.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau had maintained earlier this week that Canada would not ground the jets because the cause of the Ethiopian Air crash, which killed 157 people including 18 Canadians, is not yet clear.
He reversed that position on Wednesday.
Garneau told reporters gathered in Ottawa that the decision to issue a safety notice banning the aircraft from taking off, landing or flying over Canadian airspace comes as a result of “new data” received by Canadian officials Wednesday morning.
“There can’t be any Max 8 or Max 9 flying into, out of or across Canada, so that obviously affects the Canadian Max 8s that are owned by Air Canada, West Jet and Sunwing that own aircraft but also have implications on airlines outside the country,” Garneau said.
Garneau said new data obtained via satellite monitoring Wednesday morning suggested similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the Lion Air crash that crashed shortly after takeover into the Java Sea six months ago, killing 189 people, that “exceed a certain threshold in our minds” and that the decision to ground the fleets comes as a direct result of that.
He added that Canadian officials notified the Americans on Wednesday morning and continue to work closely with the teams investigating the crash.
He also said there was no “push back” from any of the three Canadian airlines that operate the aircraft model.
“They recognize the importance of safety,” he said.
Garneau noted “there is some disruption” as a result of the decision on airline operations but that safety is the “paramount” concern.
“For the moment, caution has to dominate,” he said.