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United CEO Declines Need for Additional Boeing 737 MAX Training

During a conference on Wednesday to discuss new international routes out of San Francisco, the CEO of United Airlines made his first public comments on the safety of the 737 MAX. His comments came over a month after Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea on Oct. 29, 2018. ( More...

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bbabis 10
In reading the article, one paragraph jumped out at me.

"Southwest Airlines is making changes to its aircraft as a result of the accident as well. The airline is adding an AOA indicator on all its MAX aircraft. American Airlines also uses AOA indicators, an optional display for Boeing 737 customers, on its 737 Next Generation and MAX airplanes."

Are you kidding me? In this day and age, how can any fixed wing aircraft not come standard with AOA indication when multiple sensors are on the aircraft already measuring it? Making it optional is the first crime and not taking the option compounds it.
Very good point, Bill.

And yes - the 737 NG/MAX all have AOA display “available” in the options list. AA and DL did buy it but UA and SW did not. I would guess that a Boeing did not charge SW much to turn on the PFD display of AOA!
btweston 3
Well the prevailing theory at this point seems to be that the AOA sensor wasn’t working properly on the Lion Air flight. So what good would an AOA indicator do if the information is wrong to begin with?
bbabis 7
At the least you get to see what the automation is reacting to. As long as airplanes are allowed to challenge pilots for control, they should be looking at the same information.
Weston, Imagine this scenario:
A pilot has been trained that a stall-protection feature exists that will activate Nose Down trim when the Captain's AOA vane senses near-stall conditions. Later, in flight, the pilot sees the trim running spurts of Nose Down adjustment. The pilot knows from the thrust setting and deck angle (Especially in visual conditions) that the airplane is not in danger of a stall, but he can see the AOA indicator showing its false reading. It then becomes immediately obvious what the problem is - and the solution. In the current reality, the pilot can only *guess* at what might have gone wrong and may well be overloaded with multiple warning noises and lights due to the erroneous AOA. Does it seem that an AOA indicator might have some value?
djames225 4
I agree with Bill in having an actual visual indicator. Since prevailing theory is the AOA sensor wasn't acting properly, the computer should have been programmed to indicate as such, using data obtained from other sensors. It should also have not initiated the so called back up system, in this case the MCAS, and let the pilots do their job. It did not have all the relevant info it should have had. I am not defending Lion Air's mechanical foul ups and the fact this craft should not have been allowed return to flight until fully tested. But what happens in flight should this happen to another MAX. Instead of having to wrestle control away from the computer, it should indicate a suspicious fault to the pilots, and let them fly the craft.
Greg77FA 7
If the CEO knows the manual, and is flying my plan, great. But what is my newbie pilot is not up to par? Why would you not offer additional training. Yes, its expensive. But a lot less expensive than a lawsuit if one goes down and you declined the training to your staff.
lecompte2 5
Airline should not be run by bean counters
Mike Lynn 4
Maybe for United CEO to chat with Lion CEO? Still to get all the facts out on the Lion crash. Lawyers are circling. It will be a long investigation/litigation.
craigbell1941 3
I don't have this technological feature on my Schweizer 2-33, but I do have a Variomiter.
bbabis -1
It would be handy though, being able to quickly go to best L/D when finding rising air.
craigbell1941 4
That will be the end of my travels on United.
Highflyer1950 2
Right out of the differences manual. Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS)

MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) is implemented on the 737 MAX to enhance pitch characteristics with flaps UP and at elevated angles of attack. The MCAS function commands nose down stabilizer to enhance pitch characteristics during steep turns with elevated load factors and during flaps up flight at airspeeds approaching stall. MCAS is activated without pilot input and only operates in manual, flaps up flight. The system is designed to allow the flight crew to use column trim switch or stabilizer aislestand cutout switches to override MCAS input. The function is commanded by the Flight Control computer using input data from sensors and other airplane systems.

The MCAS function becomes active when the airplane Angle of Attack exceeds a threshold based on airspeed and altitude. Stabilizer incremental commands are limited to 2.5 degrees and are provided at a rate of 0.27 degrees per second. The magnitude of the stabilizer input is lower at high Mach number and greater at low Mach numbers. The function is reset once angle of attack falls below the Angle of Attack threshold or if manual stabilizer commands are provided by the flight crew. If the original elevated AOA condition persists, the MCAS function commands another incremental stabilizer nose down command according to current aircraft Mach number at actuation.
So "Stabilizer Motion" (even un-commanded) has no aural or visual indication? Is this true for modern aircraft?
On the Boeing 737 (like the 707 and 727 before) have a VERY audible and visual indication of pitch trim motion. In fact, the pilot can even put his hand on the trim wheel and restrain it to some degree. On the flight previous to the accident Lion Air flight the pilots used the manual handle to adjust the pitch trim after the electrical trim was disengaged.
So during the event, the pilots would be pulling on the yoke to raise the nose but they'd also hear the pitch trim activate to counter their efforts?
Correct. And if they were qualified on non-MAX versions of the 737 they would expect that pulling back on the yoke/column would stop the nose-Dow electrical trim. But on the MAX that column cutout switch does not work when the flaps are up.

In addition to the noisy clatter the pilot can see the large pitch trim wheels on either side of the pedestal spinning.
The thing is, when you fly an Airbus it's automatic that you know how to disable most of the flight control computer's operation and fly alternate-law (ie manual), but with Boeing it isn't automatic for pilots to think that the flight control can override their inputs.
Except that it’s part of basic training...
Yep - that's a good point, vecto4 !
Michael Osmers -1
To be clear, the trim wheels are rather large physical wheels almost a foot in diameter situated by the pilot’s right knee and the co pilot’s left knee on the central control pedestal. They move whenever trim is commanded either automatically (auto flight system) or manually (pilot’s trim switches or by a retractable handle in each of the wheels, which make noise as the wheel rotates). It is impossible to not notice the trim operating in a 737.
djames225 0
Where is this differences manual located?
Some years ago US airlines DID write their own Manuals for Boeing airplanes, but after a few litigated accidents in which the airplane company claimed that the manuals did not comply with the manufacturer’s specifications, the airlines switched to using the Boeing-written manual exclusively. That meant that if Technical and test pilots at the airline believed that some aspect needed additional documentation or details, that information could not be included in the official manual. Bulletins and notices could address the items of concern, but of course, they do not retain the legacy of the official aircraft manual.

Note the “Speed Trim” verbiage in the copied information from HighFlyers link below. THAT information was in the official Boeing 737 NG (and I strongly suspect MAX), but the MCAS information was not. It certainly makes on wonder “Why Not” .

From HighFlyers link:

>> Pitch trim is applied to the stabilizer. Trim can be applied by electric trim switches, autopilot or a manual trim wheel. Electric and autopilot trim may be disengaged by cutout switches on the control stand in the event of a runaway or other malfunction.

Moving the control column in the opposite direction to electric trim will stop the trim, unless the STAB TRIM switch is set to OVERRIDE. This function could be used to control the pitch of the aircraft with trim say in the event of a jammed elevator.

The trim authority varies according to aircraft series and method of trim. The full range is only available with the manual trim wheel, but if at an extreme setting, electric trim can be used to return to the normal range. There are two electric trim switches on each control column, the right is for the direction and the left is an earth return for protection against spurious electrical signals.

The STAB TRIM light was only fitted to the 1/200 series.

Speed trim is applied to the stabilizer automatically at low speed, low weight, aft C of G and high thrust. Sometimes you may notice that the speed trim is trimming in the opposite direction to you, this is because the speed trim is trying to trim the stabilizer in the direction calculated to provide the pilot with positive speed stability characteristics. The speed trim system adjusts stick force so the pilot must provide significant amount of pull force to reduce airspeed or a significant amount of push force to increase airspeed. Whereas, pilots are typically trying to trim the stick force to zero. Occasionally these may be in opposition.

Mach trim is automatically applied above M0.615 (Classics onwards), M0.715 (-1/200) to the elevators. This provides speed stability against Mach Tuck; i.e. as Mach increases, the centre of pressure moves aft and the nose of the aircraft tends to drop.

Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MAX only) will apply nose down stabilizer trim during high AoA flight when the flaps are up and the A/P is not engaged.

Elevator Jam Landing Assist (MAX only). This will give limited changes to the vertical flight path from the spoilers to assist the approach and landing if the normal elevator system jams. The control panel is located on the Aft Overhead Panel, even if it is switched on it will only be active when the flaps are 1 or greater. When in use, the spoilers rise to a preset position; they then extend or retract as the elevator column is pushed or pulled to increase or decrease the rate of descent.<<
djames225 0
That is exactly why I asked, Charles. That link Highflyer posted was from Chris Brady, back before, and during, first delivery of the MAX edition. So, as you stated, why was info about MCAS left out.
Yes I knew about airlines using the official Boeing written manual, with addeniums coming from airline support staff.
Highflyer1950 0
djames225 0
Ok..but that isn't the official manual that is on the aircraft..why didn't Boeing include this?>
Highflyer1950 1
Airlines tailor their own manuals and have them certified by the FAA. The link was from a UK operator but probably was derived from Boeing Factory publications. This has been around since 2015/2016. The point is, regardless of whether MCAS is installed or not, the checklist for runaway stab trim is the same as this is proven by the previous crews actions with the same problem. Inadequate crew training for sure but super inadequate crew understanding is more probable?
djames225 1
There is another hypothesis also...the system finally refused to shut down..that and the info you posted was never delivered to airlines to place into their training manuals..even Boeing admitted a mistake in that. What you found was provided by Chris Brady, whom in my opinion, should be writing the manual for all airlines to use.
Inadequate training leads to inadequate understanding..and that leads to disaster. Personally I have no regards for the United CEO Munoz.
joel wiley -2
Looks reasonable in English, perhaps something got lost in translation?
djames225 1
Then American, Southwest and a few other airlines besides Lion, don't speak English??
Even Boeing admitted they did not include all the info, so where did this "differences manual" show up?
Cansojr 0
The CEO doesn't fly jets. He flys a fancy desk well removed from potential training issues. What does the Chief Line Pilot have to say about the CEO's silly comments?
Perhaps you didn’t see the comment by the UAL Central Air Safety Committees chair stating until proven otherwise that it was their position that UA training already accounts for this sort of failure? Munoz certainly would not make the comments he did had Insler not basically made them first.
john doe -1
Munoz did not decline additional aircrew training. He denied the need for it. We need a new copy editor.
djames225 1
If you deny needing it, you are declining it
john doe -1
In order to decline it, it must first be offered.
nf45 -2
Too bad there are no technically qualified people to listen and reply by making standard industry/airline flying observations and asking so how does that address flying realities?
So does that mean that only United got all the necessary info and training from Boeing!
Well - we KNOW that's not true.

I guess UAL CEO and ALPA-United MEC are just more macho than the rest of the world's 737 pilots. If I recall correctly, when the 1st gen 737 had the Hard-Over Rudder issue that attitude didn't serve UA so well....
Dave Canzano 4
RUNNING AT ALL TIMES IN THE BACKGROUND OF THE FLIGHT COMPUTER TO CHECK SENSOR VALIDITY. Nobody should die because an AOA vane was spitting out fictitious data.


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