days until our Collective Agreement expires, we are preparing, we are united and we will make change.

737MAX Aircraft

Dear members,

As the 737MAX deliveries continue, many of you have had the experience of operating this new aircraft. There is always a “teething” period when a new aircraft model arrives, and yet this time around our members may find the challenges particularly daunting. It is important that our members know that the Union has worked diligently to proactively address many foreseen issues, and this bulletin aims to explain some of our efforts.
In March of 2016, the Union met in Seattle with senior management from IFS and the 737MAX project.  This was the Union’s first introduction to the PaxPlus layout offered by the manufacturer in order to maximize revenue. It was immediately clear to us that the resulting work spaces would present enormous challenges to our crew. During the visit, aircraft mock-ups and specifics were discussed, and we shared many concerns. Further discussion ensued over the following two years at various levels and/or committees to attempt resolution. Some of these concerns included, but were not limited to:
Flight attendant stations:
  • Proximity of the jumpseats to the door and slide bustle.
  • The lack of areas in which to take protective position during an evacuation.
  • Proximity of the jumpseats to galley items which are not secured with a retention latch (coffee pots).
  • An overall lack of situational awareness when seated in jumpseats due to limited or non-existent view of the cabin.
  • Size of the bench-style jumpseat versus the optional separate jumpseats (similar to L1/A on the A32X fleet). It is essential that a process be communicated to cabin crew to deal with the eventuality that two crew members do not fully fit on the bench seat. This is very concerning to the Union as the full buttocks must be on the seat-pan in order to allow for proper bracing position and to avoid pelvic injuries in an accident.
  • Lack of privacy for crew to take appropriate rest, exacerbated by the choice of bench-style jumpseats and placement of the washroom at L2.
  • Inability of the aft-cabin crew to sit down during flight due to placement of the jumpseat and need for passengers to enter/exit the washroom at L2. This is especially concerning to the Union as it is felt it will result in increased use of galley canisters as seats, which is a known safety hazard.
  • Concerns about the tight spaces in the galleys, and possible resulting musculoskeletal injuries, as a result of the placement of washrooms at L2 and an expanded J-Class cabin.
  • Concerns and objections to the use of certain full-sized trolleys due to the size of the galleys, and possible resulting musculoskeletal injuries. It is our understanding that fellow CUPE airlines operating 737’s in a more traditional layout, have already moved (or are in the process of) to half-size trolleys for this very reason.
  • The possibility of having no dedicated garbage trolleys was identified as a huge concern for sanitary reasons, but also due to the fact that a lack of garbage trolleys on the Embraer fleet often resulted in refuse bags being tied and hung next to exits, resulting in possible obstruction to equipment, jumpseats and the exit itself. Due to the manual girt-bar system on the 737MAX, it was also raised as a concern that dripping garbage bags could result in grime developing in the floor brackets, rendering them stiff and our members more prone to injury. Due to a total lack of extra space onboard, and the fact that these aircraft operate long-haul domestic and overseas routes, even the use of flex-e-bags raises problems.
The Union communicated the following suggestions at the Seattle meeting, and at multiple time subsequent. Some of these do not fully address the concerns, but would go towards providing some degree of comfort, and care for operating employees:
  • The installation of the optional separate jumpseats.
  • The installation of a privacy curtain to separate the L2 and L2A jumpseat areas. This would block off one aft washroom allowing some degree of privacy for a crew break on long-haul or night flights, during off-peak times.
  • The use of half-size trolleys only on this aircraft type.
  • The designation of the last row of sold seats as guaranteed for flights over a certain length, to ensure a safe location for crew to eat and rest, that will not impede service and passenger amenities.
  • The guaranteed inclusion of a dedicated garbage trolley in economy galley planning, for sanitary and safety purposes.
To date, and to the Union’s great disappointment, it seems that a great deal of these suggestions and concerns have not been considered. Despite assurances that half-size trolleys would be the norm, our employees are now forced to handle full-sized trolleys in galleys the size of phone booths. It was clearly explained by the Union that crew are not in the cabin 100% of the time (especially on night flights), and that the company has actually issued advisories highlighting the aggravation that repeated walks through the cabin can cause. Despite this, crew breaks must be taken in the forward galley, on a jumpseat that is too small, and in an area that inconveniences the crew serving J-class. On long-haul flights our members are reporting galley sinks full of refuse items, due to overflowing garbage, and bags of refuse piled in galleys due to lack of space.
The Union must acknowledge the fact that many people in safety and engineering went above and beyond to include and work with your Union representatives to make the best out of an almost impossible layout. The aircraft presented unparalleled challenges to their teams, and they committed to hearing out our more detailed and specific-galley issues, and attempting to resolve them at multiple visits with the galley builder in Los Angeles over the past year.
Your Health and Safety and New Aircraft Committee representatives have worked tirelessly over the past two years to ensure that the 737MAX is as user-friendly and safe as possible, despite the inherent difficulties posed by the chosen layout. Now we need your help to document and report your experiences and concerns. Facebook and other social media platforms are not traceable or official reporting methods, and we simply cannot monitor them 24/7. Here’s how to report:
ACF32-8 Flight Attendant Injury/Accident Report– if you do not feel that you would be able to report for duty on any day following the event (even on days off), it is important to report this to the company. This is for the purpose of management investigating the incident with the participation of the joint health and safety committees, in accordance with the Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and Canada Labour Code Part II.
ACF32 Health and Safety Concern Form – If you have any health or safety related concerns as a result of your experience. Your manager must attempt to resolve your concern with you as soon as possible (approx. 30 days). If, at that time you haven’t received a response, or your concern has not been resolved you may refer it to either co-chairperson of your joint workplace health and safety committee for further investigation.
The Electronic versions of these documents can also be filled out on the iPad if you are an in-charge or through SIMS ( > Safety > Submit a report/SIMS). See your manual chapter 2 for details.
Remember that the Union is not always provided copies of the reports that you submit. We encourage you to keep us appraised by CONTACTING US.
In solidarity,
Marie-Hélène Major
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE