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Boeing to Recommend Sim Training for MAX Pilots

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Boeing to Recommend Sim Training for MAX Pilots

Old 7th Jan 2020, 19:02
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Boeing to Recommend Sim Training for MAX Pilots

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/07/b...-training.html



Boeing Will Recommend 737 Max Flight Simulator Training for Pilots
The company had long maintained that the training wasn’t needed to fly the plane, which has been grounded following two deadly crashes.

By Natalie Kitroeff and David Gelles
Jan. 7, 2020
Updated 1:28 p.m. ET


Boeing will recommend that pilots train in flight simulators before flying its 737 Max and plans to inform airlines of its decision soon, according to two people familiar with the matter, a move it had previously resisted.

The Max has been grounded since March following two crashes that killed 346 people, and Boeing has been working for months on changes to the software that contributed to both accidents. The training requirement further complicates the company’s efforts to return the plan to service.

Boeing recently informed the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, Stephen Dickson, of its recommendation. The final decision to require the simulator training would be made by the F.A.A., which is likely to follow the company’s advice. The regulator still has to complete testing of the plane.

The Max was designed, in part, to avoid having pilots train in simulators. The plane is the latest update to the 737, which has been flying since the 1960s. By making the plane similar to the 737 NG, the previous version of the plane, Boeing was able to persuade regulators that pilots did not need to train on simulators.

But Boeing did make fundamental changes to the plane, including the addition of software known as MCAS, which played a role in both crashes. Initially, pilots were not made aware that the software existed and were not trained on how to react if it was erroneously activated.

Avoiding simulator training was beneficial for Boeing. In negotiations with Southwest Airlines while the plane was being developed, Boeing agreed that if the Max required simulator training, it would give Southwest a discount of $1 million per plane. Southwest has ordered 280 Max jets.

The decision to recommend simulator testing comes as Boeing is facing continued delays in its effort to return the Max to the air. The company said it would temporarily shut down the Max factory this month, and new problems with the plane unrelated to the software that contributed to both crashes have recently been identified, raising the prospect of further delays. In December, it fired its chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg.

The F.A.A. said that it would consider Boeing’s recommendation, adding in a statement that it was, “following a thorough process, not a set timeline, to ensure that any design modifications to the 737 Max are integrated with appropriate training and procedures.”

Boeing’s decision stems from its analysis of flight simulator tests of the Max it conducted with airline pilots from United, Aeromexico, American Airlines and Southwest last month, according to a person familiar with the matter.

In the tests, which were part of the work involved in evaluating the software update, many of the pilots did not use the correct procedures to handle emergencies, instead relying on their flying skills. Those results raised questions about whether simply informing pilots of which procedures to use would be sufficient to prepare them to fly the plane.

There are currently 34 certified Max flight simulators worldwide, according to a person familiar with the matter. Getting pilots trained in the machines, which are designed to replicate emergency scenarios, will add another hurdle for airlines, who have struggled with mounting losses throughout the Max crisis.

Airlines may also be able to use the more than 200 737 NG simulators to conduct the training, though it isn’t clear yet whether that is possible.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 19:19
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I‘m curious about Southwest‘s response to this.
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 19:23
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I'm curious if they will recommend NG or mandate MAX sims.
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 19:23
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Originally Posted by AviatorDave View Post
I‘m curious about Southwest‘s response to this.
That should put about 300 MM in SW coffers
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 19:42
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That might be looking like a cheap way out right about now.
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 19:45
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Originally Posted by jdawg View Post
That should put about 300 MM in SW coffers
Yeah, short term. Wondering about their relationship in the future.
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 20:14
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Originally Boeing and SWA had a contract that called for 1 million $ penalty per aircraft if in fact sim training was required. Probably looks cheap right now. As far as using an NG sim? That makes no sense at all. Someone has not been paying attention to this discussion???
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 20:22
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Maybe they‘ll offer an MCAS plugin module to enable training on the NG sims ... errr ... I‘ll show myself out ...
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 20:24
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Above linked NYT article updated:
There are currently 34 certified Max flight simulators worldwide, according to a person familiar with the matter. Getting pilots trained in the machines, which are designed to replicate emergency scenarios, will add another hurdle for airlines, who have struggled with mounting losses throughout the Max crisis.

Airlines may also be able to use the more than 200 737 NG simulators to conduct the training, though it isn’t clear yet whether that is possible.
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 20:48
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Originally Posted by AviatorDave View Post
Yeah, short term. Wondering about [the Boeing-SWA] relationship in the future.
Compared to the cost of the grounding and delivery delays to both parties, $300 million just doesn't seem like a lot of money. And both parties are heavily committed to each other.

For perspective: SWA has something like $20 billion in annual revenue and Boeing comes in at something like $100 billion.
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 20:53
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Observing from a respectful distance, it seems to this old cynic that if you have some software/hardware that has twice demonstrated a capability to force a dive into the ground, the solution to the problem lies in removing/changing/improving the software/hardware, not in retraining pilots to deal with its behaviour in a simulator which may well not fully replicate the aberrant behaviour pilots may experience in practice.

Of course, if the need for the software is a design error which causes a pitch up which has to be corrected, the best solution is a redesign. But it would be a pity to scrap all those lovely new airliners, even though that would teach a lesson to manufacturers that speed into the marketplace does not trump getting the design right.

I can think of many situations in global airline operations where a response learned and practiced in a simulator may not solve the problem when it actually strikes. So for my money the industry, ICAO, Boeing, FAA et al, should focus on getting the software/hardware right, regardless of cost, not on training people to deal with it when it goes wrong, as a cheaper option.

And now I'll retreat back to the respectful distance.
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 21:04
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Originally Posted by old,not bold View Post
So for my money the industry, ICAO, Boeing, FAA et al, should focus on getting the software/hardware right, regardless of cost, not on training people to deal with it when it goes wrong, as a cheaper option.
We're way past the point where it's an either/or selection. The MAX is not going to fly again until a long list of people agree that MCAS has been fixed (hardware, software, whatever) and pilots have received training as agreed appropriate by the various stakeholders.
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 21:37
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Originally Posted by AviatorDave View Post
Maybe they‘ll offer an MCAS plugin module to enable training on the NG sims ... errr ... I‘ll show myself out ...
Dave, no insults intended but you obviously do not understand how sims are built or certified. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. ...Just kidding
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 22:11
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Originally Posted by Spooky 2 View Post
Dave, no insults intended but you obviously do not understand how sims are built or certified. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. ...Just kidding
I'm SLF, but I thought the whole drive behind the 737NG/737MAX thing was that pilots could transfer to the MAX without sim training as the aircraft cockpits and flight characteristics (theoretically) were the same. Wouldn't the sims be very similar except for programming and some switches/hardware? Why couldn't the 737NG simulators be modified? Please don't jump on me.....
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 22:43
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Winemaker, the objective was for the Max with MCAS to be sufficiently similar to the NG that differences training did not require the use of a simulator.

An issue with the modified Max is that MCAS.2 should shut down with malfunction, leaving the pilots with an aircraft which is different from the NG. Also, the Max may require specific procedures for recognising MCAS shut down, multiple systems alerts for an AoA failure, and revised instrument displays.

In addition it is possible that training for a trim system runaway, not associated with MCAS, will be required if the Max aerodynamics result in higher manual trim forces than the NG, or require quicker pilot recognition and action.

The NG simulator is not the same as the Max without MCAS, plus new alerting or switching logic. There would be significant changes and approvals required for an NG sim to be dual use.
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 22:58
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The flight deck differences between the NG and the MAX are minor enough that a new s/w load should be adequate to allow an NG simulator to be used as a MAX simulator.
Such multiple use simulators are already common - they simply select whatever aircraft version is wanted when booting up the simulator.
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 23:17
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I'm just an interested passenger who flies quite a lot (including some rather pleasant flights on Turkish's 737 MAXen, as it happens).

There's thousands of pilots in 737 fleets whose employers would like them to also fly the MAX, and only 34 simulators.

If those 34 simulators were deemed suitable to the task, then you probably need more of them. Cloning physical simulators not simple, but it's "just" a matter of throwing a lot of money at a production line, and Boeing will be very happy to help throw that money.

And after you've got the simulator hardware you'll need certified instructors and certified simulator maintenance people, but I suspect that's also not beyond the reach of "spend a lot of money".

But isn't the fidelity of the simulators already the topic of some debate? Isn't there, for example, concern that the simulator does not replicate the forces required to operate the trim controls? Which might have been glossed over in the past, but is now rather more serious. That's not a software fix, I would guess, but requires motors and actuators and stuff, modelling the forces of an aircraft that has yet to be flown in its final configuration.

And isn't that fidelity the crux of the emails from the Boeing technical pilot that have exercised Congress and regulators?

If that's the case the problem isn't that there are only 34 simulators. The problem is that there are zero simulators, and getting the first one certified by all the relevant parties is not going to be a trivial task. Who wants to be the regulator that signs off a simulator and a simulator programme of instruction as being "good enough"? Will European regulators accept simulators that the FAA accept, on the FAA's say so? Aren't regulators going to want sight of a lot of test flights of the definitive version of MCAS/etc in the MAX in order to calibrate and verify the simulator? What are the forces required to trim the aircraft in the scenarios we're interested in? How long to agree it all?

(Could someone clarify whether "we recommend you have a 737 MAX simulator session before flying the 737 MAX in revenue service" is equivalent to "the 737 MAX is a distinct type-rating"? I suspect the answer is "no", but how much additional training does there need to be, and how compulsory does it need to be, before it constitutes a separate type-rating?)
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 23:22
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Surely for current NG crews the mandated training will be a single session? Even two sessions would allow the 35 Max simulators to do 2900 pilots per week, which would see all Max’s crewed within six weeks exclusive of initial type rating training. How many airlines are using the Max as their first 737 apart from Air Canada?
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Old 7th Jan 2020, 23:47
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Originally Posted by AviatorDave View Post
Maybe they‘ll offer an MCAS plugin module to enable training on the NG sims...
May not even be needed. It is entirely possible they will "simply" change the procedures for runaway trim to accommodate the possible failure modes of MCAS. Examples would be extending the flaps and/or immediately hitting the stab trim disconnect switches...
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Old 8th Jan 2020, 00:11
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Originally Posted by Spooky 2 View Post
Originally Boeing and SWA had a contract that called for 1 million $ penalty per aircraft if in fact sim training was required. Probably looks cheap right now. As far as using an NG sim? That makes no sense at all. Someone has not been paying attention to this discussion???
You're giving a huge vote of confidence to the FAA and Boeing if suggesting they won't try the NG sim route. They will try to pass this off as a "procedural" or "muscle memory" box to check in a sim. The NG sim can accomplish that.
As for me? I have no faith in the FAA or Boeing right now so I'm going to I assume they recommend the NG sim. Obviously I've been paying closer attention to this subject matter than you.
For the record, MCAS needs to be removed from the MAX and crews segregated for training and operational purposes.
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