American aviation regulators are urging their counterparts around the world to do more to ensure that airline pilots are trained in manual emergency procedures that could have prevented two deadly crashes of Boeing 737 MAX airliners.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is presenting a paper this week it wrote in conjunction with Canada and other nations urging the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), an arm of the United Nations, to study training needs and how to improve minimum standards.
The paper, which is being considered at the ICAO’s 40th Assembly this week in Montreal, doesn’t mention the crashes that led to the grounding of the 737 MAX in March. But newly installed FAA Administrator Steve Dickson has made the connection.
While the agency is examining design issues on the plane that helped contribute to the crashes, “we also need to take a look at how the pilots interacted with the machine,” Dickson said in a Sept. 19 interview.
“We think it’s in everyone’s interest, including the manufacturers and the operators, to make sure that the bar is as high as it can be,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of growth going on around the world, a lot of new people coming into aviation. We need to make sure that they have the skills and expertise to be able to operate successfully in the 21st century aviation environment.”
The paper cites studies showing a high percentage of crashes around the world were due at least in part to manual-flight errors and those mistakes tend to occur as a result of inadequate training.
The FAA and other nations have identified types of simulator training that could help, but haven’t been included in ICAO standards, the paper said. As a result, “there may be a high level of variation in the approach utilized by individual states,” it said.
Investigations into the crashes off the coast of Indonesia and in Ethiopia haven’t been completed, but pilots in both cases made a series of missteps in how they responded to nearly identical malfunctions, according to preliminary reports.
The crashes killed a total of 346 people.
Separately, a $50 million fund for compensating families of people killed in crashes of Boeing 737 Max planes began taking claims Monday, with a deadline of Dec. 31 for families to submit applications.
Boeing is providing money for the fund, which works out to nearly $145,000 for each person who died in the crashes. Dozens of families are suing the Chicago-based company, which said relatives won’t have to drop their lawsuits to get compensation from the fund.
Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.