American Airlines pilots likely to test 737-MAX software fix this weekend

The testing, likely to happen in a Boeing simulator, will include a scenario similar to the one faced by pilots from Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines which led to the crashes.

In a development aimed at restoring the faith in Boeing jets following two fatal crashes, pilots from American Airlines are likely to test its 737 MAX software fix on simulators during the weekend, as per a statement from the pilots’ union.

Similarities between the flight path in the fatal crash of the Ethiopian Airlines on March 10 with that of the Lion Air crash raised fresh questions about Boeing’s systems and pilots are wanting assurances that the update is rock solid.

The two crashes killed everyone aboard.

“This airplane can be a safe airplane, and there have been great strides on getting a fix in the works, but I’ll have a better feel after we can test it out,” said Mike Michaelis, safety committee chairman of the Allied Pilots Association, or APA, which represent American Airlines pilots.

Michaelis said one APA pilot and one pilot from American’s management team would test the software fix in Renton, Washington, where Boeing builds the MAX and has two simulators.

Boeing declined to comment.

Boeing 737 MAX jets have been grounded worldwide in the wake of the two fatal crashes. Before they can resume flying, U.S. pilots will have to undergo and complete a new training that has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Boeing has proposed new computer-based training on the software update, which also needs FAA approval, followed by a mandatory test.

Southwest and American pilots have said the training should be enhanced while Europe and Canada have said they would seek their own guarantees over the safety of the 737 MAX.

According to two sources briefed on the matter at hand, Boeing will offer, a standard safety feature which will set off warnings much earlier of potential problems.

Earlier MAX simulator training was not required, partly because not many simulators were available.

Southwest and American, which operate 34 and 24 MAX jets, respectively, expect to receive MAX simulators later this year.

According to Canada’s CAE Inc, which produces the main simulator, it has delivered 9 simulators, which are now in high demand by airlines; they however take nearly a year to build. CAE expects to deliver 20 more in 2019.

“For now we want to get our safety experts in these unicorn simulators to show us what the software fix does,” said Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the American Airlines pilots’ union and a 737 pilot.

He went on to add, “When it comes to safely issues, it has to be a full-course meal, nothing a la carte”.


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