The Federal Aviation Administration will now consider the actual real-world skills of US and foreign airline pilots when developing aircraft-specific pilot-training standards.

The move by the FAA aligns it with requirements in a 2021 that law revamped some aspects of FAA oversight.

That law came out of the 737 Max crisis and resulting criticism about the FAA’s certification of the jet.

B737 Max 8 cockpit-c-Max Kingsley-Jones FlighGlobal

Source: Max Kingsley-Jones/FlightGlobal

Boeing 737 Max 8 cockpit

FAA panels called “Flight Standardization Boards” set pilot-training standards for newly certificated aircraft. They determine required pilot ratings and “recommended minimum training programme requirements” for new aircraft, the FAA says.

Those boards previously included inspectors and technical advisers.

But the FAA issued a “national policy” notice on 27 December 2021 that now requires standardisation boards also include pilots. Those pilots must be “air carrier pilots of varying levels of experience” if the boards are working on standards for transport aircraft. The notice specifies collaboration with “domestic and foreign” pilots.

The change follows two 737 Max crashes – a Lion Air crash in October 2018 and an Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019. Investigators attributed the crashes to factors including the Max’s flight control system and pilot actions.

The crashes spurred concern about pilots’ being overly reliant on automated systems, and degradation of basic flying skills.

The FAA also took heat for certificating the jet, which led the US Congress to mandate oversight changes in a late 2021 law. That law requires “pilot operational evaluations… utilise pilots from air carriers that are expected to operate such airplanes”. Those pilots must have “varying levels of experience”, the law says.