By David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski
(Reuters) - Boeing Co
If U.S. and international regulators ultimately back Boeing's proposal, it could take airlines longer to prepare their crews to fly the 737 MAX jets that have been grounded since March after two crashes that killed 346 people.
Boeing has been working on revised pilot training and software updates for the 737 MAX to win regulatory approval for the jets to fly commercially again. After repeated setbacks, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is not expected to give the greenlight until at least February, perhaps March or later.
Last year, the planemaker said it would propose that MAX pilots did not need to train on costly simulators, a position it originally used to market the latest version of its 737 narrowbody workhorse against competition from European rival Airbus SE
Airlines that bought the MAX have had to cancel flights while the global fleet remains grounded.
If only computer-based training were required for renewed 737 MAX commercial flying, Boeing's largest customer Southwest Airlines Co
Southwest had not been part of Boeing's recent discussions on pilot training recommendations and could not provide additional cost or timing estimates before there was specific guidance, spokeswoman Brandy King said.
Southwest has three MAX simulators in various stages of FAA certification and expects three more later this year. American Airlines Group Inc
Not many MAX simulators exist and it was unclear if training could be performed on the 737 NG simulator that 737 pilots have used until now. As of December, Toronto-based manufacturer CAE Inc
The FAA said on Tuesday it will consider Boeing's recommendations during evaluations of U.S. and international flight crews meant to help assess training needs.
U.S. and European aviation safety regulators are meeting with Boeing this week in an effort to complete a 737 MAX software documentation audit - an important step toward the eventual return to service.
Boeing shares closed 1% higher on Tuesday following unconfirmed reports that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway
Southwest and American are currently scheduling 737 MAX flights in April and United in June.
(Reporting by David Shepardson in Las Vegas and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Bill Berkrot and David Gregorio)
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Updated Date: Jan 08, 2020 04:07:17 IST