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Air Canada has become the second Canadian operator of the Boeing 737 MAX Next-Generation airliner, just weeks after WestJet inaugurated service on the type. The first delivery for Air Canada was Boeing 737 MAX 8 C-FTJV, the first of a firm order for 61 737 MAXs scheduled for delivery to Air Canada through 2021.
Air Canada previously operated 44 Boeing 737-200s acquired with the merger of Canadian Airlines in 2001. Nine of these aircraft equipped Air Canada’s low-cost Tango subsidiary, and 20 others equipped the low-cost arm called ZIP between September 2002 and September 2004. Most of the Boeing 737-200s were retired, sold or scrapped by 2005.
Air Canada’s first Boeing 737 MAX 8 C-FTJV came off the Boeing 737 production line at Renton, Wash., in October 2017.
The aircraft received its Canadian registration on Oct. 31, and was delivered to Kelowna Airport, B.C., that day for pre-delivery modifications by Kelowna Flightcraft.
The 737 MAX then flew to Toronto Pearson International Airport, arriving in the early morning hours of Nov. 2.
Flight training continued later in the day with flights from Toronto to Ottawa, Ont., and Mirabel, Que., for proficiency and certification. Since the 737 is a new aircraft type for Air Canada, a period of certification and training will be required before official service entry starts. Wi-Fi installation will also take place in Kelowna.
The inaugural Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX revenue flight is expected to take place later in November 2017.
Air Canada will take delivery of two B737 MAX 8s this year out of an order total of 61 aircraft. A further 16 are due by June 2018, with the balance of the original firm order for 61 due by 2021. The original Air Canada order split the variants at 33 737 MAX 8s and 28 of the larger MAX 9s, based on 2013 requirements. This was adjusted to 50 B737 MAX 8s and 11 MAX 9s as Air Canada’s requirements changed, with the first MAX 9 due in early 2020.
Recent growth in the number of passengers that Air Canada carries could lead to earlier-than-anticipated conversion of purchase options to firm orders for up to 48 more Boeing 737 MAXs. Additionally, options for 30 additional Bombardier CS300 aircraft, above the firm order for 45 Bombardier C Series, could be converted to firm orders sooner than expected, according to Air Canada.
Delivery of the first C Series jets are scheduled for late 2019 through 2022. Air Canada’s original firm order for 61 Boeing 737 MAXs was based on its 2013 requirements. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 will replace the Airbus A320, which has been with the airline since 1990, and the MAX 9 will supplant the Airbus A321 with the mainline fleet. The Bombardier C Series will replace the Airbus A319s and Embraer 190s.
Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada chief executive officer, said, “Think of it as the MAX and C Series replacing fundamentally our Airbus narrow-body fleet.”
The Boeing 737 MAX is powered by CFM International’s LEAP-1B engines, designed for fuel efficiency and noise reduction. Overall, the aircraft is 14 per cent more fuel-efficient than current 737 Next-Generations, and it has a reduced operational noise footprint of up to 40 per cent through quiet-engine technology.
The aircraft comes with Boeing’s new sky interior, which has such features as customizable LED lighting and new speakers to improve the sound and clarity of onboard announcements. Air Canada’s 737 MAX 8s will have seat configurations of 16 first class seats and 153 coach seats, totaling 169 seats. The business class seat pitch will be 38 inches pitch and 21 inches wide, while economy will be 30 inches pitch and 18 inches wide.
Air Canada is retaining its current inflight entertainment (IFE) system on its 737 MAXs, making it one of the few airlines to offer IFE service on a 737 MAX aircraft. The system will be equipped with new touchscreen entertainment devices.
Air Canada intends to deploy the 737 MAX on domestic and transatlantic routes–including Shannon and Dublin, Ireland from Toronto and Montreal–starting in the summer of 2018.
Air Canada currently operates Airbus A319s, equipped with single-aisle extended-range twin-engine operational performance standards (ETOPS), on transatlantic routes from St. John’s, N.L., to London, England. However, the 737 MAX is able to fly direct from Toronto and Montreal to Europe without a stopover or connection.
“The MAX airplane’s capability and range are something we haven’t had in a narrow-body aircraft of that size,” said Duncan Bureau, Air Canada’s vice-president of global sales. “We are extremely pleased with the capability of the aircraft. The overall economics are significantly better, and the MAX allows us more versatility.”
Klaus Goersch, who formerly served as Air Canada’s chief operating officer for more than four years, said, “The MAX will be a great fit for the airline. It flies faster and higher, and [it] is more efficient than our current Airbus planes. The mission profile of the 737 MAX is essentially the same mission profile of an Airbus narrow-body. We can use it to sun destinations in the winter time, and we can use it transcontinental in the summer time.”