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Pilots say FAA proposal for Boeing 737 MAX training needs work

Some U.S. pilot unions believe the FAA should improve its proposal for pilot training on the grounded Boeing 737 MAX.

Pilots at some U.S. airlines think the government can improve its proposal for pilot training on the Boeing 737 MAX.

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019 after two crashes killed 346 people. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is getting close to letting the plane fly again.

One of the last hurdles remaining is a new pilot-training program. Comments on FAA's proposal around pilot training were due Monday.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) said in comments filed online that the proposed training and emergency checklists for the 737 MAX are “clunky at best.” The union said the FAA should reduce the number of steps pilots must remember and perform during an emergency, adding that “error rates increase exponentially” with long checklists.

The SWAPA said pilots in a 737 MAX simulator “found it difficult to recall the steps in order.”

Airlines for America, which is an industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, also recommended in comments filed with the FAA that the number of memory items in the checklist should be reduced. The group also said, “clarifying the training for multiple flight deck alerts are of particular concern to the operators.”

Families of the victims of one of the crashes said the FAA's training proposal isn't comprehensive enough.

Boeing hopes FAA approves changes to the plane before the end of the year.

In September, the head of the FAA conducted a test flight of the revamped 737 MAX jetliner. FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson, a pilot who flew for the military and Delta Air Lines, sat in the captain’s seat during a two-hour flight.

Dickson said last year he would personally fly the 737 MAX and not sign off on its return until he was “comfortable putting his family on it.”

Meanwhile, Europe’s aviation regulator is closing in on a decision to allow the Boeing 737 MAX to return to the air, according to a report.

Bloomberg reported that the European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) executive director, Patrick Ky, said he is satisfied that changes to the jet have made it safe enough to return to the skies before the end of the year. EASA said Friday the article was accurate.

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