Saturday, 13 April 2019

FAA meeting with US airline and pilot representatives

The US Federal Aviation Administration held a three-hour long meeting on Friday, 12th April with US pilot unions and representatives from three major US airlines over the state of the 737 Max grounding.

According to local sources, the meeting was a highly charged affair with geopolitically-charged questions regarding aircraft certification and pilot training. On the agenda was the preliminary reports into the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crashes, the software from Boeing and new pilot training.    

American Airlines Group, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines all attended the meeting with the FAA's Acting Administrator Dan Elwell, who said the meeting participants’ “operational perspective is critical input as the agency welcomes scrutiny on how it can do better.”

American Airlines said in a statement it was “confident in the direction the FAA is heading” and promised to continue to working collaboratively in this process. 

Pilot s union welcomed the meeting but warned there was lots to do, “We have to unground the confidence in this aeroplane,” said Dennis Tajer, a spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, “We take off our watches and put the calendars in the drawer,” 

The meeting left some sources with the impression that FAA officials feel optimistic about actions being taken by Boeing, yet according to local media reports, others were less than impressed with the remedial action being undertaken by the manufacturer. 

“Geopolitical issues continue in their complexity and they will intertwine with everything from crew training and experience to the pilot supply/demand equation, to codeshare agreements and subsidies, and much more,” Jon Weaks, President of Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) stated in a letter to its members after the meeting. “The FAA flight safety board is continuing to evaluate Boeing's proposed software changes, and the FAA, as well as SWAPA, are still waiting on a final proposed training product from Boeing,” says Weaks’ letter. “Boeing will, and should, continue to face scrutiny of the ill-designed MCAS and initial non-disclosure of the new flight control logic.”

The FAA has convened a joint review with aviation regulators from China, Europe, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, Ethiopia and other countries. 

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