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FAA Proposes New 737 MAX Pilot Training

Oct. 7, 2020
The agency released a draft of its revised requirements for flight crews operating Boeing's twin-engine aircraft, addressing part of the cause of the two crashes that resulted in program's grounding.

The Federal Aviation Administration released a draft of the revised training procedures it will require for Boeing 737 MAX flight crews, one of the critical points to be finalized before the twin-engine jet series can be recertified as airworthy and cleared to resume commercial service. The new requirements are available for public comment prior to FAA's expected finalization in November.

The new procedures establish the requirements for crews to manage the 737 MAX's revised Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), the flight control software previously cited as the cause of two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. Reportedly, the earlier program misidentified the jets' "angle of attack" (AOA), and prevented the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines pilots from overriding an automated descent that resulted in the two incidents.

During the 18 months that the 737 MAX has been grounded, Boeing revised the MCAS and the updated version has been tested by FAA and other regulating agencies in recent months. FAA required the new MCAS to incorporate more sensor data than in the earlier version.

The new standards require pilots to complete simulator training with the MCAS before they can resume flights, including training for multiple flight-deck alerts, how to recognize AOA malfunctions, and how to respond correctly to a runaway stabilizer problem.

FAA is coordinating its recertification with regulatory agencies from Canada, the EU, China, and Brazil, among others, most of which are expected to follow the clearance anticipated next month. With that authorization, Boeing could proceed to update the aircraft programming and begin to train flight crews to operate the new jets before the end of 2020.

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