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The 737 Max is no longer Boeing's biggest problem, after yet another safety grounding – CTV News

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Late last year it seemed Boeing was finally on the verge of moving past some of the biggest challenges in its history. U.S. regulators lifted the 20-month grounding of the 737 Max, and Covid-19 vaccine approvals raised hopes for back-to-normal demand for air travel and aircraft purchases.

But now Boeing faces perhaps a more serious long-term problem: the near collapse of the market for widebody passenger jets, which is crucial to the company’s sales.

And that problem only got worse Saturday with the grounding of 69 of its 777-model jets following the frightening engine failure on a United Airlines flight out of Denver on Saturday.

The failure rained aircraft parts onto a suburban neighbourhood. Fortunately no one on the ground was hurt and the plane was able to land with no injuries. But the vivid videos shot by passengers of the burning remains of the engine and news photos of holes in residents’ roofs and huge pieces of the plane in front yards certainly brought Boeing a lot of unneeded attention.

It’s the latest in a list of problems for various Boeing twin-aisle models — and the lucrative widebody jet business is important for the company, because that’s where it holds the clear lead over rival Airbus, which is first in single-aisle jet sales.

In fact, the latest 777 grounding may be the least serious of Boeing’s widebody problems, even if the headlines are the the most glaring.

“The Max was a challenge, but it was fixable,” said Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst with the Teal Group, referring to the process to fix the safety feature that caused two crashes that killed 346 people. Beyond that human toll, the grounding cost Boeing more than $20 billion.

But several other issues Boeing faces are not so easy to fix.

Part of the underlying, ongoing challenge in this realm is the pandemic. Twin-aisle planes most often fly international routes, and international travel will likely be severely hampered long after domestic travel rebounds as governments around the globe impose new Covid testing and quarantine restrictions on passengers taking cross-border flights.

And even before the pandemic and the 737 Max grounding, Boeing has lagged in the single-aisle plane market.

Rival Airbus has more sales in that part of the market — along with a shiny new long-range single-aisle plane for which Boeing does not have a competitor. And with airlines moving toward using single-aisle rather than widebody jets on more routes, Aboulafia said Boeing’s competitive disadvantage is a more serious long-term threat to the company than the Max grounding.

“If I would point to one issue of concern that would be the widebody market,” said Cai von Rumohr, aerospace analyst for Wall Street firm Cowen.

787 Dreamliner, 777X and other problems

Beyond the existing Max challenges and new 777 grounding, Boeing has already announced plans to shutter a 787 factory in Washington state in the coming months since it needs to cut back production due to weak demand. The company expects to build only five 787 Dreamliners and two 777s or 777Xs each month, less than half of the pre-pandemic production rate for those aircraft.

Von Rumohr said with the much slower production rate on those twin-aisle jets, Boeing will be much closer to breaking even than making money on widebodies. He said it will probably depend on sales of 777 freighters rather than passenger planes if they are going to turn a profit on those models. But even with strong demand for freighters, he expects Boeing to report its third straight year of losses in 2021.

The Covid-19 effect on international long-haul routes in particular “has shifted the anticipated replacement wave and overall demand for widebody airplanes,” Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun told investors last month.

The more serious challenge involves the 787 Dreamliner, of which Boeing halted deliveries late last year due to problems with its horizontal stabilizer. On Friday the FAA ordered inspections of more than 200 of the 787s due to torn decompression panels in cargo holds that the FAA said poses a risk to the aircraft if a fire were to break out in the holds.

Von Rumohr said it is uncertain whether or not customers who have ordered the 787 Dreamliners will be willing to take delivery of the planes once the problems are fixed.

Meanwhile completion of the 777X, the company’s newest passenger jet, is way overdue, partly because of problems with the development of its GE engines, and partly because of decreased demand for the planes. That aircraft also had a problem during safety tests in September 2019. Boeing now doesn’t plan to deliver the first 777X until late 2023.

The 777 grounding

The 777 grounding after this weekend affected 69 planes that were in service with engines built by Pratt & Whitney. (Another 59 of the company’s 777s with those engines were already out of service due to lack of demand.)

The Pratt & Whitney engines that failed on the United flight — and on a 747 freighter the same day in the Netherlands — are no longer used in newer versions of either of those jets. Boeing has already announced plans to discontinue the 747 sometime next year.

The exact cause of the two engine failures over the weekend has yet to be determined. Given how long the engines have been in use, it’s unlikely that it was a design issue but could instead be a manufacturing or a maintenance problem. “It could accelerate the retirement of some of these older 777s, but that’s not a major problem for Boeing,” said Aboulafia. The problem is more likely to be with the engine than the plane itself, von Rumohr said.

Delta announced in May that it would retire all 18 of its 777 jets, even though eight of the planes had only been in service for a relatively brief 10 years.

Aboulafia said these widespread problems don’t mean Boeing planes are not safe. But he said the issues do underscore a growing challenge for a company that once was recognized as a safety leader.

“I think Boeing has a serious issue in terms of technical execution related to new plane development,” Aboulafia said. “Other than the Max, it hasn’t been a safety issue. But you could see it becoming a safety perception problem if they’re not careful.”

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Canada to receive 6.5 million Covid-19 vaccines by end of March – CNN

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In a press briefing Friday, Trudeau repeated his expectation that every Canadian who wants a vaccine will receive one by September.
Earlier Friday, Health Canada announced it had authorized AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for use in addition to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines already available.
Trudeau told reporters Canada had secured an additional two million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through Verity Pharmaceuticals and the Serum Institute of India. The first shipment of 500,000 vaccines is expected to arrive within weeks.
This shipment would expand on the 20 million doses the country has already secured from AstraZeneca, Trudeau said.
Canada also received 643,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week, Trudeau said.
Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna had significantly slowed deliveries to Canada after a combination of manufacturing delays and demands from Europe, where Canada procures its doses.
Since vaccinations began in late December, more than 1.7 million vaccine doses have been administered out of more than 2.4 million doses distributed across the country, according to Health Canada.

New variants spreading

Canada has reported 858,217 cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, who briefed reporters on Friday.
There have been 21,865 deaths from Covid-19, she said.
Over the past week, there has been an average of 97,120 completed Covid-19 tests daily with a 3.2% positivity rate and a daily average of 2,960 new cases of Covid-19 and 52 deaths, Tam said.
Over the past week, there were 2,269 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals and 564 patients receiving critical care, Tam added.
As of Friday, 964 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, 44 cases of the B.1.351 variant and two cases of the P.1 variant had been reported in Canada, Tam said.
Tam warned that as new, more transmissible variants spread, “controlling the epidemic will be much more difficult.”

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Ontario activates 'emergency brake' in Thunder Bay, Simcoe-Muskoka as York readies to administer vaccines – CBC.ca

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Ontario announced Friday afternoon that it is activating an “emergency brake” in Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka, sending the regions back into lockdown to “immediately interrupt transmission and contain community spread.”

The two regions will move into the grey lockdown level of Ontario’s COVID-19 restriction plan effective 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 1. 

“This is due to a rapid worsening in key public health indicators, as well as a high presence of variants in the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit that continue to increase — the highest in the province. As of February 23, 2021, there has been a total of 170 confirmed cases of a variant of concern in this region,” the province said in a news release.

Seven other regions will also be moving into new levels at the same time. They include: 

  • Red-control: Niagara Region Public Health.
  • Orange-restrict: Chatham-Kent Public Health;  Middlesex-London Health Unit; and Southwestern Public Health.
  • Yellow-protect: Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit; and Huron Perth Public Health.
  • Green-prevent: Grey Bruce Health Unit. 

Toronto, Peel and North Bay Parry Sound will remain under a stay-at-home order until at least Monday, March 8. 

All other regions will remain in their current level for now, the province said.

1,258 new cases — the most in nearly 2 weeks

Ontario reported another 1,258 cases of COVID-19 on Friday — the most on a single day in nearly two weeks — as officials hailed Health Canada’s approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine as a “huge deal” for the province’s immunization effort.

The new cases include 362 in Toronto, 274 in Peel Region and 104 in York Region.

York Region announced Friday it is ready to vaccinate residents 80 years of age and older by appointment. Eligible residents can book appointments online beginning Monday, March 1 at 8 a.m.

The region will administer vaccines at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital in Vaughan, Cornell Community Centre in Markham and Ray Twinney Recreation Complex in Newmarket. 

“This is a very positive step forward. We are moving aggressively to vaccinate as many as possible within the province’s identified priority populations as vaccine supply becomes available,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s medical officer of health.

“We are being as nimble as we can using different delivery models depending on the supplies of vaccines and the groups we need to immunize.”

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases include:

  • Waterloo Region: 69
  • Hamilton: 64
  • Ottawa: 52
  • Durham Region: 42
  • Thunder Bay: 42
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 35
  • Halton Region: 32
  • Windsor-Essex: 31
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 25
  • Niagara Region: 19
  • Brant County: 17
  • Eastern Ontario: 11
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge: 10
  • Renfrew County: 10

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit on a given day, because local units report figures at different times.)

Ontario’s lab network completed 64,049 tests for SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and logged a test positivity rate of 2.3 per cent.

The seven-day average of daily cases climbed to 1,114, marking a sixth straight day of increases. 

The Ministry of Education also reported 101 school-related cases: 89 students and 12 staff members. There are currently 18 schools closed due to the illness, about 0.4 per cent of those in the province.

According to the Ministry of Health, there has been a total of 477 cases caused by a virus variant first identified in the United Kingdom, 28 more than in yesterday’s update. Another 14 cases have been linked to a variant first found in South Africa, up three from yesterday, and two total cases have screened positive for the variant identified in Brazil. 

Variants of concern continue to spread quickly in Ontario, updated modelling presented yesterday shows, and are projected to likely make up 40 per cent of the province’s cases by the second week of March.

Ontario’s COVID-19 science table said the next few weeks will be “critical” for understanding the impact of these variants, and that there “is a period of remaining risk” before the pandemic likely hits a lull in the summer months. 

Meanwhile, public health units recorded the deaths of 28 more people with the illness, bringing Ontario’s official toll to 6,944. 

AstraZeneca approval could accelerate vaccines rollout

The news comes as Health Canada gave a green light for use of a third COVID-19 vaccine.

“Basically it means we can accelerate our vaccine programs from coast to coast. It also means we have a much more versatile vaccine,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician based in Toronto.

The AstraZeneca vaccine only requires conventional refrigeration and is relatively stable, Bogoch added, meaning it could be a prime candidate for immunization efforts by primary care providers and mobile clinics.

“Of course there’s still a lot of questions about who will have access to it, when we’re going to get it, through which route we’ll get it. But at the end of the day, we have access to more vaccine than we thought,” Bogoch told CBC’s News Network.

WATCH | Task force member on how AstraZeneca vaccine could be used:

There is a ‘large global experience’ that shows the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective at reducing severe infection and the likelihood of death, says Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a member of Ontario’s vaccine task force. 7:48

Ontario’s immunization strategy has been the focus of scrutiny this week, after the task force announced that an online portal for booking appointments wouldn’t be operational until mid-March — weeks after several other provinces. Furthermore, the co-chair of the task force, retired general Rick Hillier, wouldn’t offer specifics on when people under 60 years old (who are not essential workers) might expect to get their first dose of a vaccine.

Some jurisdictions, notably France, have restricted the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under the age of 65 despite the World Health Organization’s insistence that the product is safe and effective for all age groups. 

Health Canada approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for Canadians aged 18 and older, and said it has an efficacy rate of about 62.1 per cent. 

While the efficacy rate is important, Bogoch said, more crucial is the vaccine’s ability to significantly reduce the probability of a severe COVID-19 infection and hospitalization in those who receive it.

Record-high shots given out yesterday

Speaking to CBC Radio’s Metro Morning today, Hillier called the approval “wonderful news” but cautioned that provincial officials will need to wait for more instructions from Health Canada before they can say definitely how it will change Ontario’s rollout plan.

“It’s a third weapon in the fight against COVID-19,” Hillier said, alluding to the two other vaccines — manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna — currently being administered in Canada.

The federal government has secured access to 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The province said it administered 21,805 doses of vaccines yesterday, a new single-day high. A total of 258,014 people have received both doses of a vaccine.

Prioritize vaccine rollout by age and neighbourhood, experts say

The science advisory table says that prioritizing COVID-19 vaccinations on both age and neighbourhood could prevent thousands of cases and reduce the number of deaths linked to the illness moving forward.

The group detailed its advice in a new report released today.

The table said the pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on older adults and residents of lower income and racialized neighbourhoods, mainly in urban centres.

Targeting those residents for vaccination first could minimize deaths, illness and hospitalizations across Ontario, the report suggested.

Implementing the strategy would not interfere with the ongoing vaccine rollout, but could instead help guide the upcoming mass distribution of shots to the general population, it continued.

Ontario has thus far focused its vaccine rollout on the highest-priority groups, including long-term care residents, and plans to next target populations based on age. 

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Canada announces partnership with India-based company to secure more AstraZeneca jabs – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press


Published Friday, February 26, 2021 12:31PM EST

Canada’s vaccine rollout received a boost Friday with the approval of a third COVID-19 inoculation, giving the country another immunization option at a time when case counts remain nearly 75 per cent higher than they were at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic.

Health Canada approved its third COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, this time from AstraZeneca, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an additional partnership with an India-based institute that will deliver two million more doses of the newly authorized jab to Canadians by the spring.

While numbers of cases and hospitalizations have dropped from all-time highs just weeks ago, variants of concern are rising in parts of the country.

Canada’s top doctor Theresa Tam said Friday the country had 964 reported cases of the variant first detected in the U.K., up from 429 reported two weeks ago. There were also 44 cases of the variant first discovered in South Africa, and two cases of the version first found in Brazil.

“The risk of rapid re-acceleration remains,” Tam said. “At the same time new variants continue to emerge … and can become predominant.”

Tam added that daily COVID-19 case counts are nearly 75 per cent higher than they were last spring, and that the average daily case counts in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have increased between eight and 14 per cent over the previous week.

As of Thursday evening, federal data shows there have been 858,217 COVID-19 cases in Canada, including 21,865 deaths, since the beginning of the pandemic.

Tam warned that COVID-19 variants can still emerge and those that spread more quickly can become dominant.

However, progress on the vaccine front is a source of optimism, Tam noted.

“To date, over 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across Canada. And there are early indications of high vaccine efficacy.”

Canada’s partnership with Mississauga, Ont.’s Verity Pharmaceuticals and the Serum Institute of India means the country is set to receive two million doses of the CoviShield vaccine – essentially the same as AstraZeneca’s product. Trudeau said the first shipment of half a million doses will arrive by March.

Those two million incoming doses of CoviShield are in addition to the 20 million doses Canada already secured with AstraZeneca that will start arriving in the spring.

Health Canada’s chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said in a briefing Friday that the CoviShield and AstraZeneca products are “for all intents and purposes” the same vaccine.

The difference is in where they are manufactured, she said, using the analogy of the same recipe made in two different kitchens.

Trudeau said as vaccinations ramp up across the country, many provinces have expanded the number of health professions able to administer a COVID-19 vaccine, and he asked for dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians and retired nurses to lend a hand in the rollout.

“Job 1 remains beating this pandemic,” Trudeau said, adding that the federal government will continue to send rapid tests to provinces in hopes of getting more Canadians tested.

“We still have to be very careful, especially with new variants out there. We all want to start the spring in the best shape possible.”

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, added that the country’s vaccine rollout will be just one method in slowing the spread of new variants and avoiding a third wave.

He said public health measures aimed at halting transmission such as physical distancing and limiting contacts remain important.

Experts advising the Ontario government said this week more contagious variants of COVID-19 are expected to make up 40 per cent of cases by the second week of March.

Ontario reported 1,258 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with 362 of them in Toronto, 274 in Peel Region and 104 in York Region. There were also 28 more deaths linked to the virus in the province since the last daily update.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021.

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