SWAPA’s position on the Boeing 737-8 MAX 8

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 N8726H (msn 42573) FLL (Andy Cripps). Image: 945527.

SWAPA, representing the pilots of Southwest Airlines, has this position on the Boeing 737-8 MAX 8, as stated by Jon Weaks, Union President:

As we continue to mourn the loss of life related to Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, media, political and public interest remain high and, at times, in a near frenzy. I would like to brief you on the most current factual information SWAPA has received.

Both the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of ET302 have been recovered. Both of these recorders should be examined and read within the next week.

Also, today the FAA issued a Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC). In it, the FAA said it “has dispatched personnel to support the investigative authorities in determining the circumstances of this event. All data will be closely examined during this investigation, and the FAA will take appropriate action if the data indicates the need to do so.”

The FAA further said that teams from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as the accredited representative, and the FAA, as Technical Advisors, are supporting the Ethiopian Accident Investigation Bureau.

The FAA acknowledged “external reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018. However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.” It is, however, important to note that there also have been reported eyewitness accounts that suggest this accident is not similar to the Lion Air crash.

Following the Lion Air Flight 610 accident, the FAA listed completed activities in support of continued operational safety of the MAX fleet:

Issued FAA emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2018-23-51 on November 7, 2018 Validated that airplane maintenance and functional check instructions on Angle of Attack (AOA) vane replacement were adequate

Conducted simulator sessions to verify the Operational Procedures called out in FAA AD 2018- 23-51

Validated AOA vane bench check calibration procedures were adequate

Reviewed Boeing’s production processes related to the AOA vane and Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS)

In addition, the FAA listed ongoing activities it is overseeing:

Boeing’s completion of the flight control system enhancements, which provide reduced reliance on procedures associated with required pilot memory items. The FAA anticipates mandating these design changes by Airworthiness Directive no later than April 2019.
Design changes include:

MCAS Activation Enhancements MCAS AOA Signal Enhancements MCAS Maximum Command Limit

Boeing’s plans to update training requirements and flight crew manuals to go with the MCAS design change include:

Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) and Flight Crew Operations Manual (FCOM) Quick Reference Handbook (QRH) – notes in Speed Trim Fail checklist

Airplane Maintenance Manual (AMM) Interactive Fault Isolation Manual (iFIM) Boeing has proposed Level A training impacts

I have been in numerous conversations with Southwest Vice President of Flight Operations Captain Alan Kasher, who informed me that the MAX aircraft has 17,000 recordable parameters and Southwest has compiled and analyzed a tremendous amount of data from more than 41,000 flights operated by the 34 MAX aircraft on property, and the data supports Southwest’s continued confidence in the airworthiness and safety of the MAX.

I have also had conversations with TWU 556 President Lyn Montgomery, who represents Southwest Flight Attendants, AMFA National President Bret Oestreich, SWAPA Safety Committee and SWAPA Government Affairs Committee members, as well as leaders from other Pilot labor unions. I relayed to them that SWAPA is extremely confident that our entire fleet, including the MAX, is safe based on the facts, intelligence, data, and information we presently have. We fully support Southwest Airlines’ decision to continue flying the MAX and the FAA’s findings to date.

I will continue to put my family, friends, and loved ones on any Southwest flight and the main reason is you, the Pilots of SWAPA. We have lobbied hard for our training to continue to evolve and improve, and due to having the finest union Training and Standards Committee in the industry, that is

We now have Extended Envelope Training (EET) in addition to our regular annual training and since SWAPA and others have brought awareness to the MCAS issue, we have additional resources to successfully deal with either a legitimate MCAS triggered event or a faulty triggered MCAS event.

SWAPA also has pushed hard for Angle of Attack (AOA) sensor displays to be put on all our aircraft and those are now being implemented into the fleet. All of these tools, in addition to SWAPA Pilots having the most experience on 737s in the industry, give me no pause that not only are our aircraft safe, but you are the safest 737 operators in the sky.

Let me also be very clear that SWAPA has not and will not hesitate to hold any organization or person accountable when the safety and or well-being of our passengers, our organization, our families, fellow Southwest employees or the traveling public are even remotely at risk. If we need to address additional factual information that may present itself in the future, we will do so forthwith and without hesitation to ensure the safety of all.

Leading Forward,


Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 N8726H (msn 42573) FLL (Andy Cripps). Image: 945527.

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