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Boeing not proposing required simulator time for 737 Max pilots

Boeing does not believe pilots should be required to complete training in a flight simulator prior to flying the 737 Max once regulators lift the aircraft’s grounding.

The company’s chief executive Dennis Muilenburg confirms Boeing instead is developing computer-based training, though it intends to offer flight simulator time as an option later to some airlines’ pilots.

“We believe that the right training right now is computer-based training,” Muilenburg said during the company’s annual general meeting on 29 April.

He made the comment when asked if the company was developing simulator training as part of its work to bring the 737 Max back to service.

Boeing will, “where it makes sense”, provide airlines with the option to augment computer-based training with flight simulator training, he adds.

Muilenburg describes flight simulator training as a “downstream” option available “where it makes sense” and based on airlines’ “individual needs”. “We will be providing enhanced training and supplemental materials to our airline… customers,” he says.

His comments follow news last week that Boeing has been sharing the computer-based training session with US pilots.

The training reviews the 737 Max’s flight control software, including the speed trim system and manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system (MCAS), which has been implicated as a factor contributing to two recent 737 Max crashes, sources say.

That training would be available on laptop or table computers and takes about 15min to complete, sources have said.

Some pilots have said 15min of MCAS training is plenty, noting their familiarity with the 737 Max’s systems. Sources have also noted the complex logistics of running thousands of pilots through the few 737 Max simulators available, saying some airlines might need the better part a year to complete the process.

Two recent 737 Max crashes raised questions about MCAS – which Boeing is now updating – and about pilot training and the actions of the pilots in the cockpits of the two crashed jets.

Investigations into both crashes remain ongoing.

Boeing and Muilenburg have largely steered away from discussion of the role pilots may have played.

But recently Muilenburg has eased into more discussion of training, saying last week that Boeing will provide different types of training for different customers.

“Longer term, we're also deploying training packages and additional educational materials,” Muilenburg said during the company’s first quarter earnings call on 24 April. “I would call those above-and-beyond educational materials that are tailored for our various customers around the world. So, that'll be a longer-term effort where we work with them on training, education.”

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