Costly Turn in Boeing 737 MAX Crisis: Pilots Will Need Simulator Training

Photo: Thiago B Trevisan /

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It seems that it will take Boeing some more time to re-certify and take its troubled 737 MAX program off the ground. The time and cost of getting this plane back to service rises as Boeing recommends MAX pilots undergoing simulator training.

Before grounding of the 737 MAX, no separate simulator training for already 737 type-rated pilots was required. After doing type rating on the 737 NG simulator, it was enough to complete a computer-based course and pilots were ready to take a seat in the cockpit of MAX aircraft.

It was a convenient scheme, though, to avoid additional costs. Simulator training is rather expansive. Thus, on one hand computer-based sessions helped to save money on additional equipment, new personnel to provide training, etc. On the other hand, this way both Boeing and airline companies saved on the qualification of their pilots. The outcomes were fatal.

Boeing Recommends for Pilots of  737 MAX Simulator Training

Although differences between Boeing 737 NG and MAX aircraft are considered to be slight, they still do exist and, as two fatal accidents have proved, are vitally important to be highlighted.

Globally, these differences and lack of critical knowledge about distinctive features lead to death of over 300 people.

Thus, after rigorous work not only on the updates to software, but also on enhancements in pilots’ education and preparation to operate Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, the US planemaker has recommended to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that pilots are required to undergo 737 MAX simulator training.

“Boeing is recommending 737 MAX simulator training in addition to computer based training for all MAX pilots prior to return to service of the 737 MAX. This recommendation takes into account our unstinting commitment to the safe return of service as well as changes to the airplane and test results”, said Boeing in a statement.

The final decision, whether this training will be required, is to be made by the regulatory institutions.

How Could it Affect Boeing and Airlines?

It is a well-known fact that no additional simulator training for pilots with type rating for an older type of Boeing 737 was one of the primary reasons for airlines to consider purchase of this plane. Newer, more efficient, and not so costly in terms of flight crew training.

Now, in turn, this could create some additional troubles both to the airframer and airlines. Each carrier operating 737 MAX aircraft will have to either purchase a 737 MAX simulator or send its pilots to the partners who have the appropriate equipment. In both cases airline will have to spend more money.

However, this issue correlates with another problem – a limited number of MAX simulators.

Furthermore, additional training mean additional time, as each pilot will have to spent a particular amount of hours not flying, but training. This also means financial loses to airline.

Finally, if training becomes mandatory, the long-awaited take-off of 737 MAX could be further delayed, until pilots complete training.