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737 MAX training could cost Boeing time and money

A worker walks past a Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane being at Boeing's assembly facility in Renton. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

After initially balking, Boeing will be recommending a flight simulator training course for all pilots flying the 737 MAX.

737 MAX still not close to flying again

“This is a major shift,” aviation analyst Scott Hamilton told KIRO Radio.

The move was announced Tuesday, as issues for the maligned plane continue to mount. On Monday, a full audit of key systems ordered by the Federal Aviation Administration found a problem with the electrical wiring used by the MAX’s controls.

Now, pilots will have to go through a more rigorous process in order to fly the plane, that goes far beyond the online evaluation that was previously the requirement.

“An online course would be sitting on your couch or at your table; sitting in a simulator is like sitting in the real airplane,” Hamilton outlined.

Ultimately, this move could end up costing Boeing both time and money. Hamilton estimates that the company would have to pay Southwest Airlines $1 million per airplane for simulator training, while the training itself could further lengthen the amount of time the MAX remains grounded.

“Once the airplane is certified, the simulator training will probably slow the reentry into service perhaps by a month or two,” he posited.

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The 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide since last March after 346 people were killed in two crashes.

Boeing’s interim CEO, Greg Smith, said in a statement that Boeing decided to recommend simulator training because of the importance to Boeing of gaining public and airline confidence in the MAX.

The final decision on the nature of training will be up to regulators including the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA said it will consider Boeing’s recommendation but also rely on upcoming tests using pilots from the U.S. and foreign airlines.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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