Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau is suggesting he’ll break ranks with the FAA’s handling of the Boeing MAX 8 fix and require simulator training for MAX pilots flying in Canadian airspace. The FAA has so far said it will not require sim time for MAX pilots as it works with Boeing on a software update to address the potential safety issues associated with the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). Garneau said last week he’s not sold on that approach. “Simulators are the very best way, from a training point of view, to go over exactly what could happen in a real way and to react properly to it,” Garneau said. “It’s part of it—the software fixes … and the training itself, which in my mind requires simulation time,” Garneau, a retired astronaut, said at an event. Canada has not issued a directive on simulator requirements yet, however.
To date, no sim time has been required for 737NG pilots transitioning to the MAX, even though the cockpit is substantially different and the MCAS was added. Last week, an FAA panel said computer and classroom instruction will be enough for current NG pilots to make the switch to the MAX. Garneau was not impressed. “From our point of view, it’s not going to be a question of pulling out an iPad and spending an hour on it,” he said referring to published reports about the training some pilots have received. If other countries follow Canada’s lead, there will instantly be a shortage of full-fidelity MAX simulators. Air Canada says it owns the only one in North America besides those used by Boeing itself and there are reportedly only two airline-owned MAX simulators in Europe.