WestJet Airlines Ltd. cancelled a flight by a Boeing 737 Max on Friday because of a cockpit warning light that signalled as the aircraft was being pushed back from a gate at Calgary’s airport.
The plane was returned to the gate and the 35 passengers flying to Toronto disembarked and boarded a Boeing 787 that took off within an hour, WestJet said.
Lauren Stewart, a WestJet spokeswoman, said the cause of the warning light was unrelated to the safety concerns that caused the Max to be grounded worldwide for almost two years after two crashes killed 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia.
The aborted flight was an untimely hiccup for a plane that was WestJet’s third passenger-carrying Max flight since Transport Canada cleared the model to resume flying on Thursday. The regulator made the ruling after a 22-month revamp and review of changes Boeing made to the plane’s control system software.
The minor problem with the WestJet Max was quickly solved, and the plane will be ready to fly its next scheduled run on Sunday. “It’s already been cleared by maintenance,” Ms. Stewart said.
“After a normal engine start, a standard function of the health monitoring system indicated a potential fault that needed to be verified and reset. This process takes time and requires a subsequent engine run, which we do not perform with guests on board,” Ms. Stewart said. “In the interest of our guests’ time, we cancelled Flight 658 and its return 665 (Toronto to Calgary) and we rebooked them on the next available flight to ensure a timely arrival in Toronto.”
The fatal crashes are linked to the Max’s automatic control system, which sent the planes into repeated, uncontrollable dives shortly after takeoff. Changes to the Max include new software, cockpit procedures and pilot training.
The U.S. allowed the Max to resume flying in November. Europe’s regulator said the model can fly there next week.
Air Canada’s first Max flight since March, 2019, is scheduled for Feb. 1.
Both Canadian carriers allow passengers to change their flights for free, with some exceptions, if they do not want to fly on a Max.
Ms. Stewart said it is not possible to say how many passengers have switched their flights to avoid the Max, given the travel restrictions and testing requirements related to the pandemic are also prompting itinerary changes.
Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.