Aircraft manufacturer Boeing on December 7 said that it will be asking regulators to enforce a 737 MAX simulator training for its pilots before the plane is given the clearance to return to active service. The decision comes after the plane was grounded following two deadly crashes that claimed a total of 346 lives. The aviation company previously said that pilots would be in need of only computer-based training.
According to reports, the decision to introduce a simulator-based training will further delay the plane's return to commercial service because of a limited number of MAX simulators. The decision will now turn the attention to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which had resisted proposals of Canadian and European regulators to introduce additional training before the 737 MAX is given official clearance to return to commercial duty.
In a statement, Boeing's interim Chief Executive Officer, Greg Smith said that safety of passengers is the aircraft manufacturer's top priority. Smith further said that confidence of stakeholders, public and customers is very important to Boeing. He went on to say that in order to maintain that confidence, the company had taken the decision to recommend a simulation-based training coupled with computer-based training for all pilots. In December 2019, Boeing asked Dennis Muilenburg to step down as their CEO with Greg Smith filling in as the interim CEO. David Calhoun will be taking over the CEO's role on January 13.
A representative of the Federal Aviation Administration said that the US agency will take Boeing's recommendation into consideration in a meeting in the next couple of days. According to reports, the meeting will have members of the US and foreign airlines crews, who will most likely help in the FAA's official recommendation.
The representative further added that the FAA will follow a structured process and not set a definite timeline in order to ensure that proper training and procedures are followed. With the availability of a handful of MAX simulators, the training could further delay the 737 MAX planes resuming commercial duty. According to reports, one other option that had been tabled would be take training through an updated flight simulator to the Boeing 737 NG.
A spokesperson said that Southwest Airlines had three simulators in different stages of FAA certification, adding that the airlines were expecting to receive three more simulators in the late half of 2020. In addition to this, a spokesperson of an American Airlines said that the carrier had only one simulator, while United Airlines was in possession of one MAX simulator and three simulators on order.