The Wall Street Journal: Ryanair to require extra simulator training for Boeing 737 MAX pilots
Europe’s biggest low-cost airline, Ryanair Holdings PLC RYAAY, +0.82% , RYA, +1.12% plans to put pilots of its Boeing Co. 737 MAX jets through extra simulator training, according to people familiar with the carrier’s thinking, the latest airline to take additional safety measures related to the troubled plane.
American Airlines Group Inc. AAL, -0.03% is devising extra training scenarios for its 737 pilots, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week, while Canada’s transport minister has said the country could require pilots flying the jet to spend time in simulators.
The moves come after two of the Boeing BA, +0.68% planes crashed in recent months, which killed a total of 346 people on board the airliners, spurring the world-wide grounding of the MAX fleet. Accident investigators have implicated an automated anti-stall system in both crashes.
Ethiopian Airlines, the operator of the most recent jet to crash in March, has said it would mandate simulator time for its MAX pilots and has already taken delivery of a MAX simulator. Indonesia, where a Lion Air plane crashed in October, also is requiring MAX pilots to use those training devices.
Pilots typically haven’t trained in dedicated MAX simulators because regulators had determined it handled like earlier 737 models.
Boeing is working on a fix to the automated anti-stall feature, which it hopes will be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration in the coming weeks. The FAA has determined that the proposed training requirements associated with those pending changes don’t require simulator training for pilots. The Journal previously reported that the changes had been tentatively approved.
Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said in a video posted on his Twitter account Wednesday that the company had completed 120 MAX test flights, logging more than 203 hours with the fix. “We are making steady progress towards certification,” he said. Engineering flight tests by Boeing of the updated software were completed this week, with certification flights due next.
Ryanair, which was poised to receive its first 737 MAX planes this spring before the jet was grounded, took the decision to require extra simulator training as a safety measure even though it isn’t required, one of the people said.
The Irish carrier is one of the world’s biggest MAX customers and the largest in Europe, with 135 ordered and options for 75 more. Ryanair already has taken delivery of its first MAX simulator with at least one more pending, another person said. The simulators currently don’t replicate the flight-control fault and are due to be upgraded once regulators have validated Boeing’s fix to the so called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, that person added.
Ryanair has called the plane a “gamechanger” because it promises to lower per-seat costs. The plane would come with 4% more seats and, the airline has said, 16% fuel savings.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency, which sets training requirements for Ryanair, hasn’t said if it would mandate additional simulator time. EASA typically matches the FAA’s recommendations for safety actions on Boeing’s planes, but has said it would independently evaluate MAX changes before clearing the plane to fly again in Europe. EASA didn’t respond to request for comment about its plans to require simulator use for MAX pilots.
Not all airlines are embracing the need for further simulator time for their MAX crew. Southwest Airlines Co. LUV, -1.10% and United Continental Holdings Inc. UAL, -1.08% , that also have MAX aircraft, don’t intend to adopt similar training changes, according to people familiar with their plans.
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