Hero Pilot ‘Sully’ Says 737 Max Crashes Shouldn’t Have Happened
Retired pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger told a congressional panel Wednesday that pilots should practice the failure of Boeing flight-control software on simulators, not planes full of passengers.
Sullenberger described using a simulator to recreate the scenario that occurred before the crash of two separate Boeing 737 Max jets in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot said the “startle factor” when the software misfired and forced an automatic nose-down pitch of the plane was real and confusing, and he understood the difficulty the crews faced to regain control.
Sullenberger, a US Airways pilot in 2009 when he safely landed an Airbus jet on New York’s Hudson River after bird strikes knocked out the engines, said all 737 Max pilots should get detailed training on flight simulators.
“Reading about it on an iPad is not even close to sufficient,” he told the House aviation subcommittee.
His testimony came as part of a third hearing before the subcommittee that is looking into Boeing and the 737 Max airliner, which remains grounded after the two crashes killed 346 people.
The president of the pilots’ union at American Airlines says Boeing made mistakes in its design of the 737 Max and not telling pilots about new flight-control software on the plane.
Daniel Carey says Boeing’s zeal to minimize pilot-training costs for airlines that would buy its 737 Max jet contributed to errors that led to two deadly crashes and left a “crisis of trust” around aviation safety.
Separately, the head of the pilots’ union at Southwest Airlines said Wednesday that his group will seek compensation from Boeing for lost flying assignments and the costs of complying with a Justice Department subpoena for its records, which are part of the government’s criminal investigation into Boeing.
The comments underscore the challenges that Boeing still faces in winning the confidence of pilots that the Max can be made safe. Those pilots, in turn, are key to convincing reluctant passengers to fly on the plane.
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