There are three things Chris Moore can’t get out of his mind when it comes to the Boeing 737 Max.
The first is the sound of his wife crying when she learned their daughter Danielle had died aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March. The second is how small the coffin was when it arrived in Canada, because all of 24-year-old Danielle’s remains were never found.
The third is that, almost a year later, the Canadian government has not held any kind of public hearing into the tragedy, or Canada’s approval of the plane. Mr. Moore, who is from Toronto, says he and other relatives of the 18 Canadian victims haven’t been able to get a meeting with Transport Minister Marc Garneau, despite repeated requests.
Transportation Minister to meet with families of Canadian 737 Max crash victims
Mr. Moore, along with Paul Njoroge, a Brampton father who lost five members of his family in the Ethiopian crash, are upset the U.S. Congress has held several hearings, while Canada has yet to have one.
Now, they want the federal government to hold a public hearing into the 737 Max, examining Transport Canada’s approval of the aircraft, its decision to keep it in the air after the plane first crashed in Indonesia in late 2018, and its delay in grounding the troubled aircraft after the second disaster this spring.
They also want to speak to Mr. Garneau face-to-face about changes they argue are badly needed to the country’s system of aviation oversight to protect Canadians.
“I want action, because that’s the only thing that can help me through this grieving process,” Mr. Moore said. “We need to make changes, and we need to find out what happened.”
First introduced in 2017, The 737 Max has been grounded since March after 157 people died in the Ethiopian disaster, which happened just five months after the same model of plane crashed in Indonesia, killing 189. In both cases, a faulty sensor caused the aircraft’s computer system to force the plane into a nosedive. The Max had more casualties in its first two years than any other plane in history.
This week, relatives of the 18 Canadian victims, including Mr. Moore and Mr. Njoroge, will meet with a senior Transport Canada official to discuss the investigation into the 737 Max being conducted by a consortium of 10 countries, including Canada. But those meetings will be held in-camera, not open to the public, which Mr. Moore says is wrong.
“I’m grateful that I’m having discussions,” Mr. Moore said. “But it shouldn’t be in-camera, it should be open. Canadians need to know about this. What’s going on?”
Mr. Moore and Mr. Njoroge said they have made several requests to speak with Mr. Garneau since June, but have not received a response from the minister. Mr. Njoroge wants to know what analysis Transport Canada did on the plane before approving it to fly in Canada, and why the government allowed it to keep flying after the first tragedy occurred.
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Mr. Njoroge testified in Washington this fall at hearings that examined the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s oversight of the plane, which included outsourcing many of the regulatory approvals of the new plane to Boeing. Transport Canada relied upon information provided by the FAA and Boeing in its approval of the Max, which has raised questions as to whether Canada should take a more active, independent role in scrutinizing planes, rather than relying on outside agencies.
In April, Conservative MP Kelly Block tabled a motion at the House transport committee to hold four days of hearings into Canada’s approval of the 737 Max, looking at possible improvements to aviation oversight. However, that motion was defeated 5-3 by the Liberal majority on the committee.
“It’s very important that we have a hearing here in Canada where Canadians can ask questions, and also can scrutinize the process that these authorities will be carrying out in the ungrounding of the 737 Max. Eventually a decision should be made whether this plane should ever fly again in Canada," Mr. Njoroge said.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Garneau said the minister’s office has spoken with several of the families, even though Mr. Garneau himself has not met with them.
“The minister is sensitive to the concerns of the families of those who perished in the Lion Air and Ethiopian air crashes. The minister’s office has in fact been in touch with a number of family members. We have communicated with a number of them via e-mail and telephone calls,” spokeswoman Amy Butcher said late Monday.
“The families have the right to information and clarity from their government on this issue and the best way to achieve that is to speak with the head of our civil aviation team who is the technical expert on this issue.”
Mr. Njoroge and Mr. Moore said they have struggled trying to meet with the Canadian government. After e-mails last year failed, they said they were forced to go through U.S. contacts, and it wasn’t until the two men spoke with a senior Transport Canada official at an aviation conference in Montreal that a meeting was arranged.
Mr. Moore wants to discuss potential changes to aviation oversight. Among them, he said if the Max returns, consumers should be given the right to refuse to fly on the plane, even if they are transferring flights, and should not be penalized financially by the airlines. Both men want the 737 Max to undergo a full recertification in Canada if it returns, rather than Transport Canada verifying information sent to it by the FAA and Boeing.
“I will never fly one of these planes,” Mr. Moore said.