Business

Sunday 18 August 2019

Pilots pushing for more training before 737 return

Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger and Sara Nelson of the US Association of Flight Attendants. Photo: Reuters
Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger and Sara Nelson of the US Association of Flight Attendants. Photo: Reuters

Mary Schlangenstein

The union for American Airlines Group pilots is redoubling its push for time in a Boeing 737 Max simulator, saying aviators should be given access before the grounded plane returns to service.

Dan Carey, a veteran American pilot and head of the Allied Pilots Association (APA), appealed to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg a day after testifying before a Congressional subcommittee looking into two deadly crashes of the model.

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The APA has said that an earlier request for simulator time, which union officials made to Boeing through American, was rejected.

"Our participation in every aspect of returning the 737 Max to service and restoring public trust in the airplane is absolutely critical," Carey said in a letter to Muilenburg. Carey, who is stepping down next month, asked for access to a full-motion Max simulator as soon as possible.

American is one of three US carriers operating the Max, with 24 in its fleet. Carey said more than 4,200 of the company's pilots eventually will operate the plane once it's approved to fly again. Boeing is preparing a software update designed to prevent the kind of severe, repeated dives that occurred in the two accidents after erroneous readings from a sensor. The fix is meant to lessen the need for additional pilot training.

A Boeing spokesman said the company has been in touch with incoming APA president Eric Ferguson "and will work to schedule his time in the full-motion simulator in the near future."

Retired pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who landed a disabled jet on New York's Hudson River in 2009, also testified before the US House of Representatives aviation panel and called for simulator training for Max pilots. "We should all want pilots to experience these challenging situations for the first time in a simulator, not in flight with passengers and crew," he said.

Bloomberg

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