Pilots Criticize Boeing, Saying 737 Max 'Should Never Have Been Approved'

Sullenberger struggled with Boeing 737 MAX simulation

Sullenberger, who safely landed a damaged US Airways jet on the Hudson River in NY in 2009 after a bird strike disabled the engines, says he understands how the pilots of two 737 Max planes that recently crashed would have been confused as they struggled to maintain control of the aircraft, as an automated system erroneously began forcing the planes into nosedives. The stabilizers were found in the upward position, which would have forced the nose of the plane down.

Although some safety advocates called for grounding the Max after the Lion Air crash, pilot unions at American, Southwest and United stood by the safety of the plane once they were made aware of the software.

He declined to comment on the timing of Boeing's own mid-market plane and said returning the grounded 737 MAX to service was its top priority after two deadly crashes.

The two disasters killed 346 in all, and investigations revealed that both the crashes resulted from a malfunctioning flight control system of the MCAS.

"In addition to fixing MCAS in a way that resolves all the many issues with it, including that the AOA Disagree light be made operative on all Max aircraft, we must greatly improve the procedures to deal with uncommanded trim movement, provide detailed system information to pilots that is more complete, give pilots who fly the 737 MAX additional Level D full flight simulator training so that they will see, hear, feel, experience and understand the challenges associated with MCAS, such as Unreliable Airspeed, AOA Disagree, Runaway Stabilizer and Manual Trim", said Sullenberger.

Others at the hearing agreed with Sullenberger and disputed the FAA's previous insistence that pilots had been sufficiently trained how to use the MCAS system, as well as Boeing's insinuation that worldwide pilots did not "completely follow" instructions of how to prevent an MCAS malfunction.

"Our current system of aircraft certification and design has failed us", Sullenberger said.

The panel is also examining what role, if any, Boeing's rush to develop the latest version of it's 737 and the FAA's process of certifying the new model as airworthy may have played in the tragedies.

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"This was a fatal design flaw built into the aircraft at the factory", Carey said in an earlier interview.

However, a flight simulator training requirement would involve thousands of pilots and likely extend the time needed for flights to resume.

He believes pilots should get back to the basics.

Carey and Sullenberger also question the FAA's independence from Boeing and other companies it regulates.

During the hearing Wednesday, Sullenberger warned that similar crashes could occur if corrective action is not taken. Sullenberger wrote in March that the relationship was too cozy, and he particularly criticized an FAA program that relies on industry employees to perform some safety tests and inspections.

"We would like a chance to compete for that business", Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer told reporters, adding that IAG had not issued a formal tender for the narrow-body order.

Boeing's path to regaining trust still looks bumpy.

In adding the MCAS, Boeing added a computer-controlled feature to a human-controlled airplane but without also adding to it the integrity, reliability and redundancy that a computer-controlled system requires, Sullenberger said in a statement on his Twitter handle.

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