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Textron CEO sees possible simulator mandate for Max pilots

The chief executive of Textron says signs suggest aviation regulators may require Boeing 737 Max pilots to complete simulator training, though perhaps not immediately when the global grounding lifts.

Speaking during Textron's second quarter earnings call on 17 July, CEO Scott Donnelly says a simulator training requirement could come later.

"It looks… to us like it's probably going to be a requirement that allows [pilots] to get back and flying," Donnelly says of potential 737 Max pilot training regulations.

He cites a possible "transition course" for the first pilots, possibly referring to training that focuses on how the 737 Max differs from earlier-generation 737NGs. That training is also called "differences" training.

"Then [it] would mandate actual Max sim training later on," Donnelly adds.

He did not elaborate and Textron did not respond to requests for more information. The company's Tru Simulation and Training division makes 737 Max simulators.

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Tru Simulation and Training's 737 Max simulator

Tru Simulation and Training

Donnelly specifies that requirements regulators might impose as part of their decision to lift the 737 Max grounding remain unknown.

"A lot of this will depend on… how all this plays out in terms of the recommendations or requirements that FAA and EASA put on airlines," Donnelly says.

The FAA did not respond to questions about potential simulator time.

"We’re following the lead of the regulators and not going to speculate on the situation," Boeing tells FlightGlobal.

Global regulators grounded the aircraft in March following two crashes that killed a combined 346 people.

Pilots of those aircraft did not recover from sudden dives caused by erroneous activation of a flight control system called the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system.

In addition to approving Boeing's modified flight control system, regulators are expected to set training requirements intended to ensure 737 Max pilots can address such scenarios.

Such training could involve computer-based "differences" training to teach pilots how the 737 Max differs from the 737NG, or possibly simulator requirements.

But, some observers note, requiring all 737 Max pilots to train on the relatively small number of available 737 Max simulators could take many months, further delaying the aircraft's full return to service.

Donnelly says Textron has "certainly had quite a number of inquiries from customers who are interested" in acquiring 737 Max simulators

The company has already delivered the machines to Boeing and "several 737 Max customers", he adds.

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