U.S. President Donald Trump has just weighed in on the Boeing 737 MAX crash…via Twitter.
Let’s first look at what the president said in a series of two tweets just after 10:00AM ET this morning:
Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!
(I’ve preserved the tweets via screenshot/text because tweets are sometimes deleted without explanation)
Let’s assume President Trump is talking about the new M.C.A.S. system on the 737 MAX series that a U.S. airline pilot addressed earlier today on this blog.
I think many will sympathize with his sentiment that this new “safety” feature on the 737 MAX was probably unnecessary and at a minimum, has confused many pilots…including from U.S. airlines. And this idea of “far too complex” is certainly a frustration I share every time Apple updates my iOS or Microsoft releases a new version of Office.
But I don’t buy the “computer scientists” are needed argument. Just like any change, training is what is needed. That’s it. If pilots know exactly what to expect and are prepared to deal with it, the threat of disaster greatly diminishes. Planes have never flown themselves.
In response to the Lion Air crash, pilots have been trained on override systems if there is a sensor reading failure during climb out on the 737 MAX. Again, read this piece for more technical details. We can all agree that Boeing poorly communicated some of the technology updates in its 737 MAX series. But let’s not conclude that one safety update renders the aircraft too difficult for the thousands of highly-trained professionals in the USA and around the world to fly it.
What do you think about the president’s comments?
image: Gage Skidmore / WikiMedia Commons