American Airlines Pilots to Train in Simulator That Mimics Boeing 737 MAX Software Issues
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
American Airlines pilots will soon receive Boeing 737 MAX flight training in a simulator, a report in The Wall Street Journal says.
Previously, pilots at American and at other US airlines did not train for the MAX in a simulator. The change at American Airlines represents a significant shift because the carrier repeatedly said its pilots did not need additional simulator training to qualify for the newest version of the 737 if they were already qualified for the earlier 737-800 variant. Pilots’ training on the aircraft has been under increased scrutiny after the MAX’s safety was called into question by two similar crashes thought to be caused by a software system on the aircraft.
When the plane model was first released, American gave its pilots qualified to fly Boeing 737-800s a supplemental iPad-based training program that lasted about an hour, Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the American Airlines pilot union, told Quartz in March. Tajer said that after the first MAX crash on Lion Air, American’s MAX pilots received more training with an instructor and that the pilots had “requested, if not demanded, simulators.”
The Federal Aviation Administration does not mandate that US pilots train for the potential software problems in simulators. In fact, an FAA-appointed board of expert pilots concluded Tuesday that it did not believe pilots would need additional simulator training once MAXes are returned to service, Bloomberg reports. Southwest and United, the other two US airlines that have MAX planes in their fleets, reportedly are not considering simulator training for their MAX pilots.
“Preliminary analysis of the incidents involving Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines show stabilizer trim system issues may be one of the causal factors – something our pilots are thoroughly trained on,” United Airlines said in a statement to TPG. “Our training is consistently refreshed and updated, and we will make any updates to our training necessary should the FAA decide more is required as part of their ongoing investigation.”
TPG‘s requests for comment to Southwest went unreturned.
Unnamed officials told the Journal that American’s MAX pilots will go through the simulator training as soon as late summer. The simulator will include activations of the system, dubbed MCAS, that will mimic what is currently known to have occurred on the two ill-fated flights that collectively killed 346 people.
“The enhanced training also will deal with similar emergency situations in which pilots need to intercede to manually correct movement of flight-control surfaces on the jet’s tail,” the Journal says. MCAS automatically pushes the aircraft nose downward if it senses a stall is possible, forcing pilots to intervene manually if they want to disconnect it. The system likely caused the roller coaster of altitude changes that ended in deadly nosedives on both Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302.
“As a result of the continuing investigation in to both aircraft accidents, we are looking at the potential for additional training opportunities in coordination with the FAA and Allied Pilots Association (APA),” American Airlines told TPG in an emailed statement.
American Airlines has taken its 737 MAX planes off its schedule into August, and the planes remain grounded worldwide.
*This post has been updated with American and United’s statements to TPG.
Featured photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees