U.S. pilots flying for two major airlines say there were not notified of potential safety risks in the Boeing 737 MAX's automatic system now linked to the deadly crash in Indonesia.
Bloomberg reports pilots flying for American Airlines and Southwest Airlines said training did not sufficiently detail the risks and the pilots should have been informed.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency airworthiness directive last week telling pilots of Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 airplanes how to deal with an unexpected change in their flight controls.
“We don’t like that we weren’t notified,” said Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association. “The companies and the pilots should have been informed. It makes us question, ‘Is that everything, guys?’ I would hope there are no more surprises out there.”
Bloomberg reports that Southwest Airlines is the largest operator of 737 MAX planes, with an order of 257 yet to be delivered.
Dennis Tajer, a 737 captain and spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association at American Airlines, said the union’s members were also concerned.
“This is not about silos and layers of bureaucracy, this is about knowing your airplane,” Tajer said. “We will always be eager and aggressive in gaining any knowledge of new aircraft.”
The safety directive came out of the investigation into the crash of a brand-new Lion Air 737 MAX 8 in Indonesia on October 29. In the crash, telemetry broadcast from the plane indicated it nosed over and headed straight into the Java Sea at high speed just minutes after taking off from the airport. All 189 people on board were killed. The flight data recorder was recovered by Indonesian authorities providing a lot more information to investigators.
The directive pertains to some 246, 737 MAX aircraft now flying worldwide. About 45 of those planes belong to U.S. airlines, including Southwest, American, and United. Alaska Airlines has the jets on order but isn’t expected to receive any until 2019.
Boeing sent a statement to Bloomberg via email that reads, "We are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this incident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved. Safety remains our top priority and is a core value for everyone at Boeing.”