Published: Sat, June 22, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Pilots criticize Boeing's 737 Max design at House hearing

Pilots criticize Boeing's 737 Max design at House hearing

Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who landed a crippled airliner safely on the Hudson River in 2009, said he doubted that any United States pilots practiced handling a specific malfunction until it happened on two Max jets that crashed, killing 346 people. Wednesday's hearing was the second to be held by the subcommittee on the Boeing 737 MAX.

Sullenberger performed a dramatic landing of a damaged US Airways A320 jet in the Hudson River in NY in 2009 after a bird strike disabled the engines. Jon Weaks, president of the pilots' union at Southwest - which owns 34 Max jets, more than any other carrier, and is the world's biggest 737 operator - faulted Boeing for many missteps during the crisis.

The comments underscore the challenges that Boeing still faces in winning the confidence of pilots that the Max can be made safe.

"The truth is that these tragic incidents and the revelations surrounding them have shaken the public trust in our entire aviation system due to the decisions made by Boeing during the original certification process, the slow and inadequate response in the wake of the loss of Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, and the questions surrounding FAA oversight throughout", Nelson said during her testimony.

"The huge error of omission is that Boeing failed to disclose the existence of MCAS to the pilot community", Carey said. The three US airlines that flew the Max - Southwest, American and United - have canceled thousands of flights as they have pulled the planes from their schedules through the busy summer months.

He recommended that moving forward, all 737 MAX pilots should train for the aircraft in a simulator before flying with passengers.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that efforts to unground the jets have been delayed in part amid concerns about whether the average pilot possesses enough strength to turn a manual trim crank during emergencies.

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"Reading about it on an iPad is not even close to sufficient", he emphasised.

One of America's best-known airline pilots has told a congressional panel that an automated flight control system on the troubled Boeing 737 MAX aircraft was "fatally flawed" and should never have been approved.

"They didn't ever tell us the system existed", he testified.

"This was a fatal design flaw built into the aircraft at the factory", Carey said in an earlier interview. Simulator training would add to the cost and time needed to bring the MAX fleet back into service.

He also testified that the FAA must remain independent from political and economic influence, and asked for protection for whistleblowers.

Sullenberger is accompanied by from left, Sharon Pinkerton with Airlines for America, Captain Dan Carey with the Allied Pilots Association, Sara Nelson with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and former Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt, during the hearing.

In adding the MCAS, Boeing added a computer-controlled feature to a human-controlled airplane but without also adding to it the integrity, reliability and redundancy that a computer-controlled system requires, Sullenberger said in a statement on his Twitter handle.

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