Pilot union opposes alerting system exemption for Boeing 737 MAX 7, MAX 10

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The Allied Pilots Association (APA), the labor union representing around 15,000 American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) pilots, has said it opposes an effort in Congress to extend an exemption from flight crew alerting system requirements for two Boeing 737 MAX models, the MAX 7 and the MAX 10.  

Boeing is currently facing a December deadline to win approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the 737 MAX 7 and 737 MAX 10 aircraft. If the manufacturer fails to meet the deadline and no additional extension is provided, it will need to equip both variants with a modernized flight crew alerting system to meet additional safety requirements as per the new Aircraft Certification, Safety and Accountability Act (ACSAA), which will be implemented on January 1, 2023.    

However, APA argues that if Boeing is granted an extension of the exemption, it will cause the airline’s flight crew to be confused “when moving from an airplane without the modern alert system to one that is equipped with it”.  

“Pilots must have the tools we need to keep our passengers safe. By equipping these aircraft with modern crew alerting systems, Boeing can maintain a strong order book for them, which will in turn protect the jobs of the thousands of hard-working men and women who build the airplanes. Doing so will also help Boeing to continue rebuilding public trust,” the union’s president Edward Sicher said in an APA statement released on October 5, 2022.  

According to Sicher, Boeing should proceed with installing modern crew alerting systems on both the MAX 7 and the MAX 10 aircraft variants to mitigate pilot startle effect and confusion during complex compound system malfunctions.  

“Once these systems are installed and pilots have been properly trained on them, our crews will be better able to identify system failures and prioritize corrective actions that could save lives,” Sicher said, noting that, currently, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) pilots fly roughly 300 Boeing 737 family aircraft for the air carrier. 

Boeing does not anticipate receiving FAA approval for MAX 10 before summer 2023 

Neither the Boeing 737 MAX 10, nor the smaller 737 MAX 7, looks likely to receive FAA certification by the December deadline, because the manufacturer has already missed a mid-September deadline to submit the necessary system safety assessments (SSAs) for the MAX 7 jet.  

Boeing needs to receive certification for the MAX 7 before the MAX 10 can be approved. Without these SSAs, the FAA is unable to proceed with the certification process.   

Just under 10% of the SSAs have been accepted by the FAA so far with another 70% of documents being in various stages of review and revision. 

According to the US aviation regulator’s letter seen by Reuters on October 4, 2022, Boeing does not expect to win Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) approval for the 737 MAX 10 aircraft, the largest variant of the MAX family, before summer 2023. 


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