Looking Ahead for 737 Max Pilots
At this point, it seems like we continue to hear something in the news every week about the Boeing 737 MAX. It is entirely acceptable as it's hard to come to grips with the findings. Officially four months have passed since the original grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX. Two crashes took place leading to the grounding of the aircraft, Lion Flight 610 and Ethiopian flight 302 had been to the incidents. A total of 346 reported passengers and crew lost their lives between the two downed aircraft. I only recap this old news to pay respect to those who lost their lives in the two incidents.
Are we looking at the critical cause of two downed aircraft being from pressure? Did Boeing need to get the aircraft in the pattern too quickly? I am leading to the Airbus A320neo and the demand for a more fuel-efficient aircraft. In response, Boeing, one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, had firm pressure to get to market fast. Most of this tends to be old news at this point. What is worth discussing is what can we expect looking ahead for 737MAX pilots.
One of the most relevant selling strategies Boeing enlisted with the 737 MAX was the fact that no additional crew training was necessary for current 737 officers. The overall cost savings for airline operators upfront made the 737 MAX a handsome offer. Unfortunately, what is now beginning to occur is pilots are losing airframe currency, and when the airframe gets released from the ground hold, it would be likely to expect an additional delay to get the fleet air born. I would also like to mention incurring the original training cost that made it so attractive in the first place. Airline operators thought they were going to save money with the MAX. The training will most likely become mandatory. So, for you 737 Pilots out there, it looks like you still have a little wait ahead of you, enjoy that SIM time.
Digging a little deeper into it as you may know, due to the engine placement and the tendency for the aircraft nose to pitch up, The MCAS system was born. The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation Systems goal was to prevent a Stall condition in the aircraft. A new development for the MAX design.
The other primary concern was that The MCAS system had no implementation into the flight crew operations manual (FCOM). The thought behind that! If the overall procedures did not change for the aircraft neither would crew training. Now If pilots had been made aware of these specific aircraft's automatic responses, the question becomes, could the pilots have had a better idea of how to overcome the MCAS? I feel being a pilot myself; More information is better than not enough.
One question I continue to bring up is will pilots decide to not move forward with the 737 MAX. There is now a risk associated with the aircraft. As pilots, we are all about assessing the risk we take. So, the question being, is it worth the risk? Undoubtedly this is not something familiar in pilots daily thought process.
After months of bad P.R., it seems extremely obvious the push to bring the aircraft to market-led to many things slipping under the radar.
I think it also goes without saying at this point additional training past the original online course must be required. The aircraft handling tendencies are different from its predecessor. These changes demand pilots receive proper emergency procedure training at a minimum.
The differences for the 737Max initially seemed minor like the four 15-inch cockpit displays, don't forget the lengthened start-up and cool-down procedures. Other than the small things it was supposed to be a seamless integration.
The real question is looking forward; it must resemble more traditional type rating transitions. Back to the Simulator to recognize the aircraft's inherent ability to nose-up attitude, its response by nosing down with MCAS, and how to overcome this new flight attitude. Like any upset training practice, the operation of the aircraft without the MCAS control should also have integration into the training program. Is it realistic to expect that by October, Boeing must have remedied all the software fixes? A flight training transition program must be in place with accompanying study guides, written tests as well as simulation protocol?
Now looking months ahead, the 737 Max Grounding continues. The giant U.S. air carriers like Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, And United Airlines are all having to cancel flights due to the shortage. Honestly, there is going to be a cause and effect impact from all the airplanes bad P.R... Could we see airline customers refusing to book flights scheduled on the 737 MAX? Has the airline industry underestimated a passenger's willingness to travel on an aircraft? It should be informative to see what comes next. Major Airlines and their pilots look ahead at attempting to re-establish the confidence of both its crew and customers.