Canada, Disregarding FAA, Insists on Simulator Training for 737

(Bloomberg) -- The effort to return Boeing Co.’s 737 Max airliners to flight hit another hurdle when Canada’s transport minister said he favored requiring new simulator training for pilots.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said on Wednesday that the planes would be grounded “for as long as it takes” and pilots should experience the fixes Boeing is devising in simulators instead of relying only on more basic, computer-based ground training.

Canada, Disregarding FAA, Insists on Simulator Training for 737

“I feel very strongly about simulators and I say that for having trained for about 16 years as an astronaut that simulators are the very best way,” Garneau said in answer to questions at an unrelated event in Montreal. “From our point of view, it’s not going to be a question of pulling out an iPad and spending an hour on it.”

Garneau’s comments stand in contrast to a proposal released by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday that concluded the differences between the 737 Max and the most recent earlier models weren’t significant and there wasn’t a need for additional simulator time for pilots transitioning from one plane to the other.

The report was written by the Flight Standardization Board, a group made up of FAA pilots and industry experts, after a new review was conducted last month following two fatal crashes involving the plane.

The 737 Max was grounded on March 13 after the crashes were linked to an automated safety system that mistakenly thought the plane was entering an aerodynamic stall and repeatedly pushed down its nose and confused pilots.

The FAA is still waiting for Boeing to formally submit a software fix for the plane, though its engineers have been working closely with the manufacturer.

The software fix is designed to prevent any similar accidents from happening again by limiting the ability of the safety system to push down the plane’s nose and preventing it from activating repeatedly. It will also rely on two sensors instead of one, making it less likely to activate in a malfunction.

Because the plane was built in the U.S., the FAA will be the first agency to decide what new training and software changes are needed. Other nations, including Canada, have the authority to keep the plane grounded in their countries.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.