US pilot union opposes extension to Boeing 737 MAX planes’ cockpit alert upgrade

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The pilots’ union of American Airlines has come out strongly against plans to give Congressional deadline exemption to Boeing to update the cockpit system of its 737 MAX 7 and 10 models that alert the crew when something goes wrong.

They have vehemently rejected Boeing’s argument that it is safer to have one common system for all versions of the 737.

“Boeing needs to proceed with installing modern crew alerting systems on these aircraft to mitigate pilot startle-effect and confusion during complex, compound system malfunctions,” Capt. Edward Sicher, president of the Allied Pilots Association that represents 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, told Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

In December 2020, the US Congress passed the Aircraft Certification, Safety and Accountability Act, which tightened the conditions required to obtain  certificates for new aircraft. It will take effect on January 1, 2023.

The legislation come in response to two fatal 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people and led to the best-selling plane’s 20-month grounding.

But on Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration in a letter told the Senate that Boeing won’t be able to certify the MAX 10 and Max 7 before next summer, calling for an extension to the deadline.

“With regard to the 737-10, Boeing’s current project plan timeline has the 737-10 receiving an amended type certificate no sooner than summer 2023,” FAA Administrator Billy Nolen wrote in response to a question from Republican Senator from Mississippi Roger Wicker, according to a Reuters report.

Only MAX 8 and MAX 9 models have been certified with the new cockpit system.

The family members of those killed in the MAX plane crashes have also opposed giving Boeing an extension.

(With inputs from agencies)

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