Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members, for the invitation to contribute to the committee's study of aircraft certification.
Transport Canada appreciates the committee's work on all issues related to the safety of the travelling public and is pleased to help in any way it can.
Aircraft certification is essential to the safety and security of our transportation system and is part of Transport Canada's mandate.
March 10 marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic Ethiopian Airlines accident. And it's been nearly 18 months since the tragic Lion Air accident. Our thoughts continue to be with the victims, along with their family members and friends.
As committee members know, the model of plane involved in both accidents was the Boeing 737 MAX 8. On March 13, 2019, days after the Ethiopian Airlines accident, Transport Canada received and analyzed new satellite data that informed its judicious decision to swiftly close Canadian airspace to the aircraft.
These restrictions will remain in place until Transport Canada is fully satisfied that all safety concerns have been addressed by Boeing and the FAA, and adequate flight crew procedures and training are in place.
Civil aviation relies on the global collaboration of manufacturers, operators and regulators. All stakeholders, including governments, work together to minimize the risk of aviation accidents. The International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, facilitates this collaboration. Under the ICAO convention, the country that manufactures an aircraft—known as the “state of design”—is responsible for certifying its airworthiness and safe operation. The state of design must conduct the testing needed to certify the aircraft and then share this information widely. Under annex 8 of the ICAO convention, countries can either accept the state of design certification or use the results of the original performance tests to validate the certification.
Boeing manufactures the Max 8 in the United States, and the Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA, is responsible for its certification.
The FAA is also responsible for certifying Boeing's approach to fixing the problems identified in the wake of the MAX 8 accidents. ln addition, it must ensure the effectiveness of any recommended changes to the aircraft's design and operation, as well as to crew procedures and training.
Transport Canada continues to work closely with the FAA on its review of the MAX 8. We also continue to work closely with civil aviation authorities in Europe and Brazil in hopes that this model of aircraft can return to service, and transport travellers safely to destinations around the world.
Transport Canada has been, since the accidents, conducting an independent review of the design changes proposed for the MAX 8 that the FAA are working to certify. This review will include test flights of the aircraft to validate the proposed changes. Any changes in an aircraft's design or operations can also impact crew procedures and training.
A Joint Operational Evaluation Board, comprising international civil aviation authorities, including Transport Canada, is analyzing the proposed changes to the MAX 8 and will identify any potential impacts on crew procedures and training.
The board's analysis might, for instance, identify new training requirements, such as additional simulator training, before the Max 8 can return to service. Transport Canada may also require additional training for crews that operate the Max 8 in Canada.
A key contributor to the Lion Air accident and a suspected contributor to the Ethiopian Air accident was the automatic activation of a system known as MCAS, manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system, following a failure of an angle-of-attack indicator that measures the aircraft's angle relative to the oncoming air. MCAS is part of the larger system that also controls speed stability of the aircraft.
Under specific flight conditions, MCAS automatically moves the aircraft's horizontal stabilizer, the device that adjusts the nose of the plane so that it points up or down.
In the wake of the Lion Air accident, the FAA, the state of design responsible for the Max 8, issued an emergency airworthiness directive related to the MCAS. The directive amended procedures by drawing the crew's attention to the existing runaway stabilizer procedure that would allow crews to effectively counteract the unwanted activation of the MCAS system.
Three Canadian operators fly the Max 8: Air Canada, Sunwing and WestJet. Transport Canada immediately shared the FAA's airworthiness directive with these airlines, and then took an additional step to further improve safety. In collaboration with the three airlines, Transport Canada developed and implemented enhanced training requirements for pilots.
The requirements exceeded the standards implemented by the FAA's airworthiness directive and were specifically designed to reduce the time delay in the crew's use of the runaway trim stabilizer procedure required to counteract the effects of an unwanted MCAS activation.
The additional step of new training demonstrates Canada's commitment to the highest possible safety standards. To complete the training, aircrews had to memorize the five steps required to exercise the runaway trim-stabilizer procedure. Previously, aircrews had to memorize only two of the five steps and then, if needed, consult the cockpit handbook for the other steps.
I am confident that the measures implemented by the FAA Airworthiness Directive, subsequently adopted and enhanced by Transport Canada in collaboration with Canadian MAX 8 operators, significantly reduced the risks involved in situations like the one that led to the Lion Air crash.
The combination of mitigation strategies better prepared Canadian pilots to manage the failure conditions that were evident in the MAX 8 accidents.
Commercial aviation operates in a highly complex, continuously evolving environment. I encourage committee members to recognize that Canada maintains one of the safest civil aviation systems in the world. Our safety record results from the hard work, dedication, experience and technical expertise of the men and women directly involved in the system.
On behalf of the public, Transport Canada remains absolutely committed to safety and bases all of its safety-related decisions on accurate, current and relevant evidence.
Thank you. I'll do my best to answer any questions you may have.