The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association is supporting Boeing’s bid to extend an exemption on equipping two models of the 737 MAX with up-to-date pilot alerting technology. Boeing has until the end of the year to certify the MAX 10 and MAX 7 with the existing alerting system that doesn’t meet current FAA standards. Union President Capt. Casey Murray told Reuters all 737s should have the same alerting system. “We believe in the interest of safety and commonality that it should be certified under the same rules,” Murray said.
The alerting system was cited by investigators into two fatal crashes of MAX airplanes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that prompted a two-year grounding of the newest 737 model. They said the audible and visual alarms distracted pilots who were trying to figure out what was happening to their aircraft. Congress subsequently enacted certification reforms that mandated updated alerting systems for all new aircraft but gave Boeing two years, until the end of 2022, to get its two remaining MAX models certified. Boeing has said it won’t be able to certify them until mid-2023. There is a movement in Congress to extend the MAX exemption. The Allied Pilots Association has opposed the extension, saying the alerting system should be brought up to current standards.
Incredible. Because the FAA can’t do IT’S JOB (certify the system so all 737s have a common annunciator system), Boeing (the leading manufacturer of airliners in the world) can’t get their latest and most efficient airliners certified.
Worse yet–the proposed changes actually CAUSED two accidents, as the pilots (who may fly several different models of the same aircraft) were distracted by the very alarm and warning system that was developed and certified to HELP them. It seems to be a case of “the cure is worse than the disease”!
IF the new system IS so far superior to the “tried and true” old system, perhaps the FAA should mandate retrofitting the new system to older airplanes–after all, the FAA is never shy about issuing Airworthiness Directives. Unlike having two different systems (and two different ways of complying with an alert), commonality would be achieved.
“……and the FAA often wonders why they aren’t taken seriously….”
The alarm system that contributed to the pilots confusion is the old, existing system.
If the new system is that much better than the old system, why not mandate the new system be installed on the older airplanes? Perhaps even Boeing would help with the cost–IF it meant that all of the 737s could be certificated (including the new ones)–breaking the FAA log jam?
OR–the FAA could just continue to insist that the new airplanes should have separate certification–adding years to certification and millions to the cost–as well as airlines having to have additional type-rated crews (and maintenance personnel)–separate procedures, separate maintenance–separate spares.
It would cost Boeing and the airlines billions–and result in the loss of thousands of jobs to foreign competitors–from manufacturing, maintenance, crews, etc.
But then, that’s NORMAL when government gets involved.
To be fair, the accident database contains plenty of examples of crews being overwhelmed by the abundance of alarms in airplanes that do have an EICAS feature. Just look at the QANTAS accident in the A380. I’m not really convinced that having an EICAS is the panacea that the victim families imagine it to be.
I flew the excellent 737 models 200 thru 700NG, also the even better 757 & 747-400 & 400F. Basically EICAS works, the elderly 737 doesn’t have this, whatever is done, keep it simple and tell the crews all & everything about it. Way back in Boeing Seattle when I was on the lead training team for these airplanes, the answer to a question was “You don’t need to know that” next stage : Smoke and mirrors” last and final”:Pure ffing magic” When asked by a pedantic pilot how does this switch work, answer, It works,. It did.