In this Nov. 14 photo, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 is parked outside Boeing Co.’s 737 assembly facility in Renton. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

In this Nov. 14 photo, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 is parked outside Boeing Co.’s 737 assembly facility in Renton. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

US pilots want more training on new Boeing jet after crash

The MAX 737 automated anti-stall system is under scrutiny after a deadly crash in Indonesia.

By David Koenig / Associated Press

DALLAS — American Airlines pilots are seeking more training on an automated anti-stall system on certain new Boeing jets. The system is under scrutiny after a deadly crash in Indonesia.

Southwest Airlines says its pilots are getting more instruction on recovering from stalls, but a spokeswoman says that training was approved before the Lion Air accident and is not limited to the new model of Boeing 737 that was involved in the Oct. 29 Indonesian crash.

The developments came Thursday after Boeing technical experts met separately with pilots from both airlines.

Indonesian investigators are probing whether pilots on an Oct. 29 Lion Air flight were overwhelmed when incorrect sensor readings activated the anti-stall system and automatically pushed the nose of their plane down. The Boeing 737 MAX plunged into the Java Sea, killing 189 people.

The anti-stall system differs from those in previous Boeing 737 models. Pilots at American and Southwest say Boeing didn’t explain the changes in the new plane’s operating manual.

Boeing says the MAX is safe and that there is a procedure for stopping the nose-down command. The Chicago-based company, however, is considering whether software changes in the anti-stall system are needed.

Modern planes use sensors outside the fuselage to measure airspeed and the pitch of the plane’s nose. The sensors can malfunction, however, and safety experts have suggested that Boeing will have to change the automated anti-stall system of the 737 MAX — which entered service last year — to prevent it from responding to a single erroneous reading.

Southwest Airlines said all of its pilots are getting additional classroom and simulator training by the end of the year. Airline spokeswoman Brandy King said the training covers all its Boeing 737 jets, not just the new MAX model, and includes recognizing and reacting to situations in which the nose might be pointed too high, and unreliable sensor readings. She said the training was approved before the Lion Air crash.

Boeing representatives met Sunday with leaders of the pilots union at Southwest. The union declined to comment on the meeting.

Dennis Tajer, an American Airlines pilot and spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, said several members of his union met with Boeing’s lead engineer and chief test pilot for the 737 MAX on Tuesday in Fort Worth, Texas. He said they quizzed the Boeing experts on how erroneous readings from a single sensor could trigger the nose-down command.

American Airlines pilots who were already familiar with the 737 got 56 minutes of training on a tablet computer when learning to fly the MAX, and “it seemed to suffice,” said Tajer, who is a pilot himself, “but clearly there is more to this aircraft.”

A Boeing spokesman said the company always examines aircraft design and operation after any accident or incident.

“Boeing continues to evaluate the need for software or other changes as we learn more from the ongoing investigation,” said the spokesman, Charles Bickers.

A spokesman for American declined to say whether the airline had agreed to the union’s request for more training, saying only that the airline was working with the union.

United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said, “We have the proper training in place for our pilots.”

At the end of October, Southwest had 26 Boeing 737 MAX jets, American had 16, and United Airlines had seven, according to Boeing figures.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Yansi De La Cruz molds a cheese mixture into bone shapes at Himalayan Dog Chew on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Give a dog a bone? How about a hard cheese chew from Arlington instead!

Launched from a kitchen table in 2003, Himalayan Pet Supply now employs 160 workers at its new Arlington factory.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Washington minimum wage to top $16 an hour next year

Meanwhile, some salaried workers and rideshare drivers could see their earnings rise from other state-required adjustments.

Inside the new Boeing 737 simulator at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo, Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
New Boeing 737 simulator takes ‘flight’ in Mukilteo

Pilots can test their flying skills or up their game at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo.

An Amazon worker transfers and organizes items at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amazon cuts ribbon on colossal $355M fulfillment center in Arlington

At 2.8 million square feet, the facility is the largest of its kind in Washington. It can hold 40 million “units” of inventory.

A computer rendering of the North Creek Commerce Center industrial park in development at 18712 Bothell-Everett Highway. (Kidder Mathews)
Developer breaks ground on new Bothell industrial park

The North Creek Commerce Center on Bothell Everett Highway will provide warehouse and office space in three buildings.

Dan Bates / The Herald
Funko president, Brian Mariotti is excited about the growth that has led his company to need a 62,000 square foot facility in Lynnwood.
Photo Taken: 102312
Former Funko CEO resigns from the Everett company

Brian Mariotti resigned Sept. 1, six weeks after announcing he was taking a six-month sabbatical from the company.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Paper or plastic? Snohomish County may require businesses to take cash

County Council member Nate Nehring proposed an ordinance to ban cashless sales under $200. He hopes cities will follow suit.

Catherine Robinweiler leads the class during a lab session at Edmonds College on April 29, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Grant aids apprenticeship program in Mukilteo and elsewhere

A $5.6 million U.S. Department of Labor grant will boost apprenticeships for special education teachers and nurses.

Peoples Bank is placing piggy banks with $30 around Washington starting Aug. 1.
(Peoples Bank)
Peoples Bank grant program seeks proposals from nonprofits

Peoples Bank offers up to $35,000 in Impact Grants aimed at helping communities. Applications due Sept. 15.

Workers build the first all-electric commuter plane, the Eviation Alice, at Eviation's plant on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Arlington’s Eviation selects Seattle firm to configure production plane

TLG Aerospace chosen to configure Eviation Aircraft’s all-electric commuter plane for mass production.

Orca Mobility designer Mike Lowell, left, and CEO Bill Messing at their office on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 in Granite Falls, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could a Granite Falls startup’s three-wheeler revolutionize delivery?

Orca Mobility’s battery-powered, three-wheel truck is built on a motorcycle frame. Now, they aim to make it self-driving.

Members of Gravitics' team and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen stand in front of a mockup of a space module interior on Thursday, August 17, 2023 at Gravitics' Marysville facility. Left to right: Mark Tiner, government affairs representative; Jiral Shah, business development; U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen; Mike DeRosa, marketing; Scott Macklin, lead engineer. (Gravitics.)
Marysville startup prepares for space — the financial frontier

Gravitics is building space station module prototypes to one day house space travelers and researchers.