Aviation Security/Flight Safety

Ballooning backlog of passenger complaints

The federal government is giving the Canadian Transport Agency an additional $75.9 million over three years to help deal with an avalanche of airline passenger complaints. “Travellers have rights, and these rights must be respected,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said March 14. CGA officials said late last year that more than 30,000 complaints were still unresolved and Alghabra said the latest count is some 42,000. [node:read-more:link]

Air carrier consolidation okayed

The federal government today approved Calgary-based WestJet’s takeover of Montreal-based charter operator Sunwing. Transport Minister Omar said the approval is “subject to strict terms and conditions” designed to promote competition despite Competition Bureau concerns. [node:read-more:link]

“The truth is (maybe) out there”

The Office of the Chief Science Advisor of Canada, Mona Nemer, is looking into the unidentified aerial phenomena. The Sky Canada Project evidently will collect information with a view to producing a draft report in the fall and setting the stage for a public report in early 2024. [node:read-more:link]

China-U.S. ballooning relationship

As Canada and the U.S. continue to investigate airspace incursions by “flying objects”, including a Chinese “spy” balloon and three others shot down by NORAD in the past week or so, the Chinese foreign ministry said February 13 that the U.S. has flown balloons into its airspace more than 10 times in the past year. “It’s not uncommon for the U.S. to illegally enter the airspace of other countries,” an official said. “The first thing the U.S. side should do is start with a clean slate, undergo some self-reflection, instead of smearing and accusing China.” [node:read-more:link]

Four NORAD shootdowns in nine days

An “unidentified” object shot down by a U.S. F-22 Raptor pilot over Lake Huron February 12 is the focus of a Canadian-U.S. debris recovery in Canadian waters. It was the fourth such interception since a suspected Chinese “spy” balloon was shot down off the U.S. East Coast after transiting the U.S. and Canada. That was followed by the downing of high-altitude “objects” off northern Alaska and the central Yukon due to concerns about surveillance and potential interference with commercial air traffic [node:read-more:link]

Malaysian Airlines MH17 update

A Dutch-led team of investigators says there are “strong indications” that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the supply of the Buk missile to separatists who shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, killing all 283 aboard, most of whom were Dutch. Russia has consistently denied any involvement. [node:read-more:link]

Canadian waterbomber crashes

The two crewmembers of a converted Boeing 737, one of six owned by Vancouver-Island Coulson Aviation, survived the February 6 crash of their waterbomber while fighting wildfires in western Australia. The aircraft was based in Sydney after Coulson waterbomber had been based in Sydney after the company recently signed a two-year contract from the Australian government [node:read-more:link]

Boeing denies hiding 737 information

A Texas court preparing to hear accusations that Boeing concealed flight control systems information in the aftermath of 737 Max jetliner crashes in October 2018 was told by the company January 26 that nothing had been withheld. Relatives of the 346 victims want to reopen what they say was a “sweetheart agreement” with the Justice Department in 2021 whereby Boeing paid $2.5 billion in fines and compensation. [node:read-more:link]

New 737 Max challenge

The Boeing 737 Max crashes in October 2018 off Indonesia and February in Ethiopia killed all 346 crew and passengers and led to a 22-month global fleet grounding as investigators uncovered flaws in the flight control systems. The company avoided a trial by agreeing to pay US$2.5 billion in fines and compensation but now the victims’ families want a Texas court to reopen the settlement. [node:read-more:link]

Dutch suit against Russia proceeds

The European Court of Human Rights has agreed to hear a case brought by the government of The Netherlands against Russia over the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 as it overflew Ukraine in 2014. A missile fired by Moscow-backed Ukrainian separatists was confirmed as the cause and the suit argues that Russian disinformation about its role violated the human rights of victims’ families. [node:read-more:link]

More losses at Boeing

Boeing today reported a fourth-quarter 2022 loss of US$650 million, blaming “abnormal production costs” as it tried to deliver a backlog of 737 Max jets, accelerate 787 Dreamliner deliveries and address lagging 787 production. “We continue to face a few too many stoppages in our lines . . . as we run into supply chain shortfalls,” CEO Dave Calhoun said, expecting a first-quarter 2023 loss. [node:read-more:link]

Fatal Ukrainian helo crash

Ukrainian Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky and six other officials died in the crash today of a Eurocopter Super Puma near Kyiv. Three others aboard also died and at least a couple dozen persons on the ground were killed or injured. The cause of the crash is unknown. [node:read-more:link]

Nepal air crash worst in decades

At least 68 of 78 persons aboard died in the crash of a local Yeti Airlines crash in central Nepal January 15 but rescuers were still searching for the missing four today. It was the third-deadliest crash in the Himalayan country’s history; 113 persons died in a Thai Airways crash in July 1992 and 167 in a Pakistan International Airways crash several weeks later. [node:read-more:link]

Mother Nature’s political storm

Blaming “extreme weather” and staffing issues for stranding of thousands of passengers abroad over the year-end holidays, Canadian airlines promised a parliamentary committee January 12 that they would change how they handle these situations in the future. However, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra told the committee that the carriers’ behaviour was “unacceptable” that their protocols “clearly” need to be reviewed. [node:read-more:link]


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