ECA: Before Boeing’s MAX return to service: we need answers and transparency

ECA, representing the pilots of Europe, issued this statement:

Regulators from across the globe met on May 23 in Texas (USA), to discuss a possible return to service of the grounded Boeing 737 MAX. The FAA is currently reviewing Boeing’s proposed ‘software fix’ and is already looking ahead at taking the plane back to the sky.

For European pilots, having closely followed the developments and revelations in the past months, it is deeply disturbing that both the FAA and Boeing are considering a return to service, but failing to discuss the many challenging questions prompted by the MAX design philosophy. ln particular, how can a design and regulatory setup that originally failed by approving a flawed aeroplane’s entry into service, credibly provide the solution without significant reform? The European Aviation Safety Agency has a key role to play providing transparent, independent reassurance to pilots and Europe’s travellers.

“Boeing must bring in clarity about its design and also the philosophy that stands behind it” states Jon Horne, ECA President. “Apparently only one sensor was chosen to feed a critical system such as MCAS, rendering it highly vulnerable. No hands-on experience of this system – either working or failed – and only fitted in the first place to counteract unacceptable handling characteristics, was part of pilot training requirements. All this to enable the aircraft to be classified as a common type with previous 737s, avoiding costly ‘type-rating’ training for 737 pilots that switch to the MAX. Has the desire for a more marketable common type-rating been prioritised over a safer design of the aircraft itself? Are there any other systems where the same design logic has been applied? We don’t know. But it is us, the pilots, who do need to know if we are to fly our aircraft safely. Our list of open questions gets longer by the day. It is up to Boeing and the FAA to finally take responsibility and be transparent about this.”

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