From the “This Makes No Sense At All” file, Boeing on Friday fired the last of its company Flight Training Airplane (FTA) pilots at a time when it is preparing to relaunch the 737 Max, and will instead outsource the work to Cambridge Communication, Ltd., a firm based in Isle of Man. The 737 suffered two catastrophic crashes, one in 2018 and one in 2019, that resulted in a total of 346 deaths. The failures that led to the crashes have consistently been tied to deficits in training pilots to use the new system, which was not highlighted in different training publications. FTA pilots typically provided training to pilots of customers, especially ones who are purchasing new planes, such as the 737 Max.
Boeing got some bad reviews in the press last year when it was reported by multiple news sources that it had outsourced coding of 737 systems software to offshore contractors, some of whom were reportedly paying their coders $9 per hour.
One of the major advantages of Boeing employing flight training airplane pilots, at least according to the union that represents those pilots, is that they know the lay of the land at Boeing, especially the roles of design and manufacturing teams. “These longstanding relationships,” said Paul Shearon, president of the union that represents those pilots, “are essential to certifying new flight systems such as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), the module responsible for the two tragic 737-MAX accidents,” said Shearon. “But those relationships won’t exist with training pilots from Cambridge Communications Limited.”
Boeing is expected to relaunch the 737 Max shortly after it gets the final approvals from the FAA, which published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on August 3rd and will report on comments to the proposed rule and perhaps issue a final rule soon. The 45-day comment period for the NPRM expired in mid-September.