Wednesday, November 14, 2018

US Pilot Unions Question The Boeing 737 MAX Documentation After Lion Air Crash

Two pilots unions have complained that they were ‘kept in the dark’ regarding a potential risk from a new safety feature on the 737 MAX 8. This comes following the devastating Lion Air crash that killed 189 people on October 29th. It seems Boeing failed to include information on this new system in any of its communications, leaving pilots unaware of the potential dangers of a malfunction.

Two pilots’ unions in the US have said that the potential risks of a particular feature on the 737 MAX were not specified to them during training. Boeing have admitted that there was no reference to this safety feature in any of the documentation either. The unions say this left them in a compromising position of not knowing what to do in the event something went wrong.

Known as the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, this feature was added to compensate for particular nuances in the handling of the aircraft. Designed to protect against pilots losing control, the sensor for the system on the Lion Air flight malfunctioned, causing the aircraft to take a sharp dive.

Since the accident, Boeing along with the Federal Aviation Administration have issued directives highlighting the specifics of the system in question.  The directive warned pilots that a computer on the Boeing 737 MAX could lead to the plane being forced to descend sharply for up to 10 seconds even in manual flight, leading to potential difficulties in controlling the plane.

President of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, Jon Weaks, spoke for all their pilots when he said, “We don’t like that we weren’t notified. The companies and the pilots should have been informed. It makes us question, ‘Is that everything, guys?’ I would hope there are no more surprises out there.”

Dennis Tajer, spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association at American Airlines and a 737 captain himself said that his union’s members were troubled by the revelations. He commented that, “This is not about silos and layers of bureaucracy, this is about knowing your airplane. We will always be eager and aggressive in gaining any knowledge of new aircraft.”
13/11/18 Jo/Simple Flying