Local pilot says more training needed for Boeing 737 Max jets involved in plane crashes
On Sunday, American Airlines joined fellow U.S. carriers United and Southwest by canceling flights into the fall.
The common denominator among all three is the Boeing 737 Max plane which was involved in two crashes. The first in November 2018 when a Lion Air jet crashed into the sea off Indonesia following takeoff and 189 people were killed.
Then, in March, another Boeing 737 Max went down in Ethiopia taking the lives of 157. Software issues are suspected as the cause.
Dave McKay, a retired commercial and business jet pilot has flown over 36,000 hours in and around Alaska. He was surprised American and the others made the announcement setting its schedule back for the next four months and on the doorstep of the holiday season.
"I would have thought they would accept that it's a small thing to correct in the airplane. There's no basic design deficiency. it's simply a matter of education and the airplane should be flying sooner," McKay said.
Now the government and the manufacturer are reeling.
"I think the FAA's a little bit embarrassed during the certification of the airplane,” McKay said. “But it's going to take a little time and cost an awful lot of money to make the adjustment. It's devastating for Boeing and the government."
McKay says the two crashes were similar and preventable and believes more training for the pilots could have helped. The changes to automate the operating system for the Max resulted in significant differences in how it responded to control inputs.
McKay said Boeing installed the system to compensate for those differences to satisfy the FAA.
"They might have done a less than perfect job educating the pilots to what the intent of the operation of the system was supposed to be," he said.
So, the airplanes remain grounded.
"The system Boeing put in to make adjustments to the handling of the airplane initially received signals from one source. There are two sources of that information on that airplane but apparently was optional initially to connect it to both systems," McKay said.
Pilot training outside of the United States also concerns McKay since the international standard for second in command is lower outside of the country. Following several accidents, the U.S. raised its required level from 250 to 1,250 hours. McKay believes that extra training could have been a difference-maker. McKay thinks the pilots' voices have been the loudest in ensuring safety precautions are taken.
"Every one of those pilots who get in that airplane wants to come back," McKay said. "They just said we're not going to operate these anymore until somebody explains what's going and what do if it does fail."
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