Boeing Making Progress on 737 MAX, But Plane Still Not Ready to Fly: Pilots

Boeing is making progress updating software for its grounded 737 MAX aircraft, but a retraining program for pilots is still lacking, a spokesman for American Airlines pilots' union said Friday.

"If you don't have pilots trained to the fullest extent possible, this is not going to work," said Capt. Dennis Tajer, of the Allied Pilots Association.

The plane was grounded after two deadly crashes in five months.

One focus is on updating a system known as MCAS, designed to push the nose of the plane down to gain speed if it senses a stall. Failures involving that software were linked to both crashes.

"We like what we're seeing now, but this isn't going to be easy,” Tajer said.

As for Boeing's computer-based plan to retrain pilots, Tajer said it's improving but still not acceptable.

It does not currently include hands-on simulator training.

"We're not requesting this as a precondition of the MAX flying at this point, but we are reserving that opinion until all the facts and information is in," he said.

Pilots only care about doing it right and won't accept any rush to re-certify the aircraft, he said.

"If getting it done right means that the airplane flies again, then we'll be there to greet our passengers eye-to-eye, saying we're good to go," Tajer said. "If it's not done right, we'll just have to go from there. That airplane is not going to fly again until everyone comes to a 'Yes.'"

Boeing, the FAA and the airlines also have said there's no timetable for putting the MAX aircraft back in service and that it'll only happen once they're safe to fly.

Tajer added the association is working closely with American Airlines and they may go beyond minimum requirements and undergo even more training.

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