One of the country's most well-known airlines listens to the problems of the Boeing 737 MAX jetliner. Retired Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger told a congressional committee on Wednesday that an automated 737 MAX air traffic management system "was poorly mistaken and should never have been approved."
Sullenberger, who probably landed a damaged US Airways jet on the Hudson River in New York in 2009, after a bird strike has turned off the engines, says he understands how the pilots on two 737 Max aircraft recently crashed would have been confused as they struggled to maintain control of the aircraft, as an automated system mistakenly began to force the planes into the nose.
"I can tell you first hand that the starting factor is real and it is huge. It completely interferes with one's ability to quickly analyze the crisis and take corrective actions," he said.
The House Aviation Subcommittee examines the collapse of the Boeing 737 Max jets in Indonesia in the fall and in Ethiopia in March, killing a total of 346 people. The panel also examines the role, if any, of Boeing's bustle in developing the latest version of the popular 737, and the FAA's new model airworthiness certification process that may have played in the tragedies.
The aircraft remain out of service as the aviation authorities around the world based the planes shortly after the second crash. The three US airlines flying in the MAX USA, the US and the US have canceled thousands of flights as they have pulled MAX aircraft from their schedules through the busy summer months.
Boeing says it has now implemented a software solution for the automated system called MCAS, which investigators say seems to be at least partially blamed on the crashes.
"These failures are evidence that our current system of aircraft design and certification failed us," Sullenberger told lawmakers. "The accidents should never have happened."
Daniel Carey, president of the Allied Pilots Association, representing pilots at American Airlines, noted Boeing's strong security record in general, but he criticized the aviation fighter for making many mistakes in order to reduce costs while developing the MAX aircraft so that It will feel as much as the previous version of 737. "Boeing designer and engineers and manufacturers excellent aircraft," Carey explained. "Unfortunately, in the case of MAX, I must agree with Boeing's CEO, they let the travel agent fall into a fatal and catastrophic way."
Carey told the committee that the MCAS air traffic control system, designed to prevent an aerodynamic stall, was flawed in having a single point of failure without redundancies. In the case of both the Lion Air flight in Indonesia and the Ethiopian Airlines plane, a single attack sensor produced misleading data to the system, so MCAS sharply and repeatedly pointed the nose of the plane down when it should not.
"An enormous omission was that Boeing failed to disclose the existence of the MCAS system to the pilot community around the world," Carey said. "The final fatal error was therefore the absence of robust pilot training in the event of MCAS failure."
Carey says Boeing's mistakes have created a "crisis of confidence" between the aircraft manufacturer and pilots.
When Boeing prepares to submit the software fix to the MCAS system to the FAA for the Agency to conduct test flights and ultimately certify the aircraft, which could happen within the next few weeks, both Carey and Sullenberger asked for more robust pilot training as suffered the plan to allow 737 MAX jets to fly passengers again, including experiencing an MCAS system error while training on a simulator.
Boeing has suggested that such training could be done with an hour session on a laptop or tablet device. Simulator training was not required for pilots who passed from the previous "Next Generation" version of 737 to MAX.
Sullenberger says he recently experienced scenarios similar to those facing the pilot of the convicted Ethiopian and Lion Air jetliners in a simulator, saying he understands the difficulties they had been trying to preserve of the planes. "Even by knowing what would happen, I could see how crews could have run out of time and height before they could have solved the problems," he said.
"We would all like pilots to experience these challenging situations for the first time in a simulator, not on the run with passengers and crew on board," Sullenberger told lawmakers and added "reading about it on an iPad is not even close Pilots need to experience the physical, first hand. "
But there are few 737 MAX simulators present and giving such training to thousands of pilots around the world would be costly and logistically problematic.
He and Carey rejected suggestions that the crash could not have happened in the United States, where pilots should have much experience and more rigorous training before flying commercial vehicles.
"Some (American) herds would have recognized It was time to recover, but some would not have," Carey explained. Sullenberger agreed that several experienced pilots are unlikely to have had different results and added: "We should not expect pilots to compensate for faulty design."
"These two latest crashes occurred in foreign countries," said Sullenberger. "But if we don't solve all the important issues and factors, they can and will happen here."