Aviation News

How Airline Pilots Can Be Certified to Fly Other Plane

The Boeing 737 was introduced in 1967 and has since become the workhorse of airlines around the world. Perhaps surprisingly to many, a pilot certified to fly that original twin-jet from 52 years ago, the Boeing 737-100 model, would be equally qualified under aviation regulations to fly its descendant introduced in 2016, the Boeing 737 …

The Boeing 737 was once offered in 1967 and has since grow to be the workhorse of airways around the globe. Most likely unusually to many, a pilot qualified to fly that unique twin-jet from 52 years in the past, the Boeing 737-100 style, can be similarly certified underneath aviation rules to fly its descendant offered in 2016, the Boeing 737 MAX 8. And in a similar fashion, a pilot certified to fly a model of the 737 is legally ready to fly each and every different one, even though a number of exist, and that generation has made large strides because the first 737 flew.

However the coaching to fly the MAX for the ones certified at the previous fashions has come underneath scrutiny with the fatal crashes of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Boeing 737 MAX jets, and with the planes’ next grounding. Certainly, whilst Ethiopian was once probably the most first airways on this planet to have the 737 MAX full-motion simulator, the pilots who flew the MAX that crashed didn’t teach on it. As an alternative they’d finished the so-called variations coaching licensed via the Ethiopian aviation regulator and via Boeing. They have been certified to fly the former era of the 737, and they simplest had, legally, to move thru that step in an effort to fly the present one — even supposing a key device that was once designed to make the planes behave in a similar fashion most probably performed a component in each crashes.

That “variations coaching” is most often computer-based coaching, adopted via 4 or so supervised flights afterwards. Within the eyes of the airways, regulators and producers, this is sufficient because the planes are of “commonplace sort” and a pilot can be “sort qualified” to fly it and passengers.

There may be no indication from the regulators, the airways and the producers that this will likely trade in response to contemporary occasions.

And it’s good to be forgiven for pondering that the concept that of those plane being of the similar sort, in layman’s phrases, is atypical, for the reason that the flight tools glance very other between successive fashions of the 737:

The Boeing 737-100’s cockpit. (Symbol courtesy of Museum of Flight, Seattle)
Boeing 737-300. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Te Boeing 737-300 cockpit  (Symbol from Wikimedia Commons)
The flight deck of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 (Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG)
The flight deck of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 (Picture via Alberto Riva/TPG)

It’s regardless of, trade professionals informed TPG.

“I by no means flew the MAX or the unique 100 or 200 sequence however I’d make an excessively massive guess that I may soar in both of the ones sequence presently and fly them simply and as it should be and deal with any emergency scenario that you simply care to throw at me,” mentioned Chris Brady, in an e mail. Brady runs a Boeing 737 on-line technical information and is the writer of a e-book at the matter. He flew the Boeing 737 for 18 years, on fashions starting from the 300 to 800. “I will be able to guarantee you that beneath the surface they’re similarly equivalent,” he added.

The Boeing 737-100 (Symbol by means of Wikimedia Commons.)

“The aircraft might be of commonplace sort if it’s underneath the similar sort certificates when it’s qualified, without reference to when it was once constructed,” mentioned Dr. Carolina Anderson, an Affiliate Professor of Aeronautical Science at Embry Riddle Aeronautical College. “And the truth that the primary fashions had spherical gauges and the brand new ones have virtual presentations does no longer subject. There’s clearly a familiarization duration wanted for pilots. However the efficiency of the plane won’t trade.”

“The avionics, apparatus and form of engines would possibly have modified however it’s nonetheless regarded as the similar aircraft and it doesn’t need to agree to some more recent certification regulations that different airplanes underneath new sort certificate need to agree to as it will get grandfathered in,” Anderson defined.

A Delta Boeing 737-900ER at JFK (Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG)
A Boeing 737-900ER, taking a look very other from a 737-100 constructed 50 years previous (Picture via Alberto Riva/TPG)

Commonality is not anything new in aviation. Boeing began the commonality pattern, however rival Airbus perfected it. Right here’s how.

The very idea of a commonplace sort was once advanced with the Boeing 757 and 767. Even if they’re other plane — the 757 is a unmarried aisle, narrowbody jet for 200 passengers, the 767 a twin-aisle, widebody, 250-passenger aircraft — they’re of the similar sort in line with the producer and the FAA. It so took place that Boeing advanced the 2 plane in tandem, with separate groups, earlier than understanding the advantage of a unmarried, usual flight deck. The groups have been married.

The result’s that the flight decks of the 757 and 767 are just about similar, in spite of the planes being rather slightly other. Certainly, pilots have famous {that a} main distinction is that one steps down to go into the 757 flight deck and steps up to go into the 767’s.

This commonality led to massive financial savings for the airways. Each time an airline brings in a brand new aircraft sort within the fleet, extra pilot coaching is needed, together with a number of multi-million greenback full-motion flight simulators. Via incomes the mark of a commonplace sort, pilots can fly each and every plane with out a lot or any further coaching. This was once a large promoting level for the 737 MAX.

Airbus took Boeing’s unique commonplace sort idea and made it a significant a part of its business plan and design. The flight decks and tools are very equivalent between the tiny A318 and the mighty A380, and no other inside its bestseller, the A320 circle of relatives itself. Certainly, a pilot at the Airbus A320 can fly the entire variants within the A320 circle of relatives: the smallest A318, the A319, the standard-size A320 and the entire strategy to the most important, the A321, which will elevate double the passengers of an A318, with none further coaching. Airbus even has a reputation for his or her technique and design masterstroke: move workforce qualification, involving a “decreased sort score transition route which supplies credit score for the technical similarities and commonplace operational and dealing with procedures,” Airbus says. 

Take the instance of JetBlue, which operates the A320 and the A321, in addition to the Embraer E190. Pilots can function the A320 and A321 seamlessly, however can’t jump over to the E190 or the brand new A220 until they’re rated to take action. And that normally calls for a weeks-long route and full-motion simulator coaching.

Commonality works additionally between the Boeing 777 and the 787, as an example. The pilot of a 777 can obtain 8 days of coaching and be certified to fly the 787; this cross-pollination of pilots is usual observe within the trade. To qualify for a Boeing 787 endorsement, pilots want to be present and certified within the former plane, have finished a Boeing 787 variations route, and feature handed the skillability test that’s required. (After which, get used the grey-blue colour scheme at the panels of the 787 in comparison to the brown of the 777.)

“Enabling an important aid of prices for airways, the diversities coaching does no longer necessitate using a ground-based full-flight-simulator, and permits a 65 % aid in pilot coaching time — to just 8 days — as opposed to an ordinary transition route,” Airbus says. Same old transition classes for pilots — as though they have got by no means flown the specific plane — can take as much as 4 weeks.

In step with studies, the diversities coaching for the 737 MAX from the former style was once a two-hour video educational consultation on an iPad. The New York Instances has reported that United Airways technical pilots assembled a 13-page guide for his or her pilots to assist them with the transition to the MAX. In a remark, American Airways famous that “Boeing 737-800 pilots have been required to obtain some further coaching at the MAX 8, which incorporated an hour’s lesson on some variations. Further coaching was once no longer required, because the 737-800 and the MAX Eight have the similar sort certification.”

“They’re the similar plane albeit with extra trendy engines, tools, and nav methods,” mentioned Brady, the 18-year captain, in regards to the 737s. “The hydraulics, electric methods, touchdown tools, fireplace coverage, flight controls, gasoline device and many of the caution methods are unchanged. You simplest have to check the overhead panel or wheel smartly of a 100 to a MAX to peer how very equivalent they’re,” he mentioned.

“It’s like an eye fixed converting from analog to virtual. It may well be other, however we will be able to nonetheless inform the time.”

Mike Arnot is the founding father of Boarding Move, a New York-based commute emblem, and a non-public pilot.

Featured symbol of JFK airport via Alberto Riva/TPG

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