Pilots seek further changes to 737 MAX operating procedure for runaway stabilizer

©Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing had set November 2 as the date by which it wished to receive feedback from pilots regarding the revamped MCAS system, including the new procedure for a runaway stabilizer.

Pilot consensus has been that the requirement to remember an eight-part procedure was too complicated and that a simpler design was required. Two fatal crashed involving the 737 MAX were put down to a faulty MCAS system which received erroneous sensor data and subsequently the anti-stall system kept forcing the plane’s nose downward, despite the efforts of pilots, on both occasions, to override the system. Relatives of those who were killed in the crash have objected to the latest pilot training for its new operating systems, classing it as “inadequate”, and “insufficient to ensure that 737 MAX pilots are properly equipped to handle all MCAS-related emergencies and prepared to serve as the last line of defense against another tragedy.”

One of the physical changes to the jet has been the installation of a second sensor so that the MCAS system has two data feeds instead of the original one. The Southwest pilots’ union has made it clear that its pilots are unhappy with the new runaway stabilizer procedure, making it clear that simplification was required, stating that: “error rates increase exponentially with a checklist containing eight memory steps including three conditional steps.”

According to Reuters News Agency, after testing the checklist in a MAX “simulator” the union “found it difficult to recall the steps in order, and furthermore find this checklist is ‘clunky at best.’” The British Airline Pilots Association proposed changes including requiring all five MAX special flight training elements be conducted in a MAX full-flight simulator, instead of allowing some in a 737-NG simulator. The Allied Pilots Association recommend reducing intervals for recurrent training on runaway stabilizer from 36 months to 24 months.

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