After the Ethiopian Airlines disaster and before the FAA grounded the Boeing 737 MAX American Airlines pilots came out declaring the aircraft safe.
The Allied Pilots Association (APA), representing the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, remains confident in the Boeing 737 Max and in our members’ ability to safely fly it.
The pilots for the world’s largest airline have the necessary training and experience to troubleshoot problems and take decisive actions on the flight deck to protect our passengers and crew.
They also underscored that American Airlines 737 MAXs were unique, “the only ones equipped with two [Angle of Attack] displays, one for each pilot, providing an extra layer of awareness and warning.”
Now that the aircraft is grounded, however, and Boeing is working to bring it back into service with updated software, procedures, and training, pilots say the plan isn’t good enough.
American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX Interior
There was no need to ground the aircraft, according to the airline’s pilots union. But it’s also not safe to bring back as-proposed. Those are two positions which are difficult, but not impossible, to reconcile.
A draft report by an FAA-appointed board of pilots, engineers and other experts concluded that pilots only need additional computer-based training to understand MCAS, rather than simulator time.
…[The pilots’ union] is arguing that mere computer explanation “will not provide a level of confidence for pilots to feel not only comfortable flying the aircraft but also relaying that confidence to the traveling public.”
It said the MAX computer training, which originally involved a one-hour iPad course, should include videos of simulator sessions showing how MCAS works along with demonstrations of other cockpit emergencies such as runaway stabilizer, a loss of control that occurred on both doomed flights.
APA also called for recurring training on simulators that includes scenarios like those experienced by the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines pilots, in addition to computer training.
American Airlines Flight Simulators, Fort Worth
More training is better, and that’s tough to argue against. The union likely also sees an opportunity for more paid time for its members.
And American Airlines is in something of a pickle. If the pilots say they need to be paid to do simulator training, that’s what is going to need to happen. During last week’s earnings call, CEO Doug Parker basically said it is the pilots’ call as to whether the aircraft is safe.
We -that’s what gives us – what will give us confidence and what will give the flying public confidence that the aircraft is safe to fly will be when American Airlines pilots say that it’s safe to fly because I can tell you for certain is that if an American owned pilot decides that their plane is safe to fly you can be a hundred percent certain of that and not because – not out of bravado, out of analysis, out of understanding the aircraft, out of training, out of knowing, they have been their co-pilot has been trained accordingly.
So absolutely our pilots will be not just involved and critical to this process will make sure whatever time the aircraft is deemed airworthy that our pilots will – that will have a leadership role in ensuring that they are comfortable with that.
It sounds like American Airlines pilots will be getting sim time coming up.