While the world fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft have remained firmly grounded for six months, Air Canada flew one of its MAXes on 11 training hops in August and early September according to Reuters. Air Canada was granted an exemption from the grounding by Transport Canada because of the unique effect the loss of the airliner posed in crew currency. Air Canada has the only cadre of purely MAX pilots in the world and, unlike other carriers with MAX aircraft, it didn’t fly 737s before it started using the MAX last year. Since virtually all of its MAX pilots learned to fly 737s on the MAX, they can’t stay current by flying earlier versions.
To ensure it had pilots ready to fly the MAX and train others when the type is recertified, Air Canada asked TC to allow a series of flights with training captains to keep them current enough to bring others up to speed when the planes go back into service. The flights took a triangular route from Mirabel to Val d’Or to North Bay. When they were complete in early September, the aircraft was flown to desert storage in Arizona. Boeing remains optimistic the aircraft will be back in service before the end of the year but others are predicting it will be 2020 before the first revenue flights are approved.