To the membership of CUPE Local 4070:
Since the tragic accident of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on Sunday, we as your representation have been actively following the unfolding situation, as it relates to the global Boeing 737 Max-8 fleet.
CUPE 4070 would like to express our condolences to the family and friends of the crew and guests of this flight.
Tragedies like this hit all of us in the global aviation community especially hard. On behalf of our 3,300 members, on Tuesday we sent the attached message to Mesfin Tasew, COO of Ethiopian Airlines.
There has been much speculation in the media and online as to the safety of the Boeing 737 Max-8. WestJet currently operates 13 Max-8 aircrafts. Some jurisdictions around the globe have grounded this aircraft indefinitely. Others, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US, and Transport Canada (TC) have not taken these steps yet.
The priority of CUPE Local 4070 is to advocate for the safety and wellbeing of every WestJet Cabin Crew Member. CUPE Local 4070 President, Chris Rauenbusch has been in contact with WestJet COO Jeff Martin, as to whether any directives or orders have been received from the aircraft manufacturer, or any guidance has been disseminated from the FAA or TC, and as to current steps WestJet is engaged in.
Each of us on your Local 4070 Executive are here to advocate for our safety, and our right to come to work and operate in a safe environment. At present we believe that going to work on any of WestJet’s 121 Boeing 737 jets is safe.
Mr. Martin indicated that WestJet is in round-the-clock contact with Boeing, as well as frequent contact with TC, the FAA and other North American operators including Southwest, Air Canada and Sunwing. All North American operators of the Max-8 continue to operate the model confidently, based on the guidance of Boeing and regulators.
Following the first Max-8 incident involving Lion Air in October 2018, there were media reports that pilot training was deficient in the new elements of the Max-8 FMS system, that were not part of the NG or classic B737 models. This proved incorrect for most operators in North America, and WestJet enhanced existing procedures for our Pilots as a result of that accident. The necessary procedures were a part of WestJet’s standard operating procedures from day one of Max-8 operations and were enhanced following the Lion Air incident.
Mr. Martin has committed to remaining in contact with CUPE Local 4070 Executive, and we will work together with our employer to ensure the safety of our workplace is always at the forefront. We will update you, our membership, should more information come to light.
Your CUPE Local 4070 Executive