737 MAX Simulator Training To Be Recommended By Boeing

***Update: 08/01/20 @ 11:57 UTC – Added Ryanair statement***

News has just emerged that Boeing will recommend that pilots intending to fly the 737 MAX should train in flight simulators. According to the New York Times and their sources, Boeing will inform airlines of its decision soon. The 737 MAX was originally designed in such a way that pilots already certified to fly previous generations of Boeing 737 would not need any additional simulator training for the MAX.

The design of the MAX was intended to circumvent the need for additional simulator training for certified 737 pilots. Photo: Getty Images

Final decision made by the FAA

We immediately reached out to Boeing for comment on this news. A spokesperson has confirmed that Boeing is recommending 737 MAX simulator training in addition to computer-based training for all MAX pilots prior to return to service of the 737 MAX. A statement reads:


“This recommendation takes into account our unstinting commitment to the safe return of service as well as changes to the airplane and test results. Final determination will be established by the regulators.” – Boeing spokesperson


While the final decision to require simulator training rests with the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Boeing has informed the FAA Administrator, Stephen Dickson, of its position favoring simulator training. As mentioned in the Boeing statement, the final decision as to whether or not simulator training is required will be made by the FAA.

The 737 MAX has been grounded for 9 months now. Photo: Getty Images.

Designed to avoid simulator training

By now it is well-known that the MAX was designed in such a way that pilots already trained on the Boeing 737 would not need additional training in simulators. The MAX is the latest iteration of the 737 – the first model being released in the 1960s.

Lufthansa received the first Boeing 737-100 in 1968. Photo: Altair78 Wikimedia Commons.

With a design similar enough to its predecessor, the 737 NG, Boeing convinced regulators that pilots did not need new training on simulators. With airlines all over the world flying older Boeing 737s, this was a massive selling point. Airlines could save time and money as their pilots could avoid training on simulators. Instead, pilots could take a one-hour iPad lesson informing them of the new features of the MAX.

It is also well-known by now that Boeing added advanced software to compensate for weight and balance issues related to the 737 MAX’s larger engines and their forward position. The software, known as MCAS, was a factor in the two crashes that led to the March 2019 grounding.

Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are still grounded and unable to be delivered. Photo: Getty Images

We asked several airlines that operate the 737 MAX for comment on this story. Here’s what American Airlines, United Airlines, and Ryanair had to say:

“American continues to work with the FAA and Boeing throughout the recertification process.” -American Airlines

“While we have made clear that requiring simulator training for our pilots has been under consideration at United, we support the ongoing process and will continue to await the specific training requirements from the FAA.” – United Airlines

“As one of the few airlines that has 2 Boeing 737-Max full flight simulators for pilot training and with an additional Max simulator expected to be delivered in 2020-2021, Ryanair is in a good position to train its pilots to the highest standard ahead of the fleet returning to service – once the aircraft is certified as fit to fly by the authorities.” – Ryanair

United also added that it currently has one operational MAX simulator in place, as well as three MAX simulators on order.


The FAA is very likely to follow Boeing’s advice and recommendation. However, the regulator still has testing of its own to complete before lifting the ban. Furthermore, civil aviation authorities around the world may not blindly follow the FAA. They may want to make their own decisions regarding pilot requirements in their respective countries.

“Safety is Boeing’s top priority…Public, customer and stakeholder confidence in the 737 MAX is critically important to us and with that focus Boeing has decided to recommend MAX simulator training combined with computer-based training for all pilots prior to returning the MAX safely to service.” -Interim Boeing CEO Greg Smith.

Obviously, simulator training for this aircraft completely defeats the purpose and design of the MAX. According to the New York Times and its source, there are currently 34 certified MAX flight simulators worldwide. This will most certainly add to delays in getting the MAX back into commercial service. Obviously, thousands of pilots from airlines throughout the world will have to run through this new training.

However, these same airlines have invested billions in these new aircraft. Despite what was originally advertised, Boeing’s customers will simply need to get their pilots trained up if they are to utilize their expensive new jets.

What’s your reaction to this news? Do you think airlines all around the world will demand that Boeing compensate them for the cost of additional training? Let us know in the comments!


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Kind of figured we have been moving this way for the past few months. One of the biggest issues with MCAS is they didn’t tell anyone about it, or how to handle the dumpy piece of software.


Wander if this simulator training will have the MCAS in it as well.
If not then it will still be a waste of time in the simulator.


The MCAS behavior will have to be reflected in simulator training, no doubt. They could never get away with it not being integrated now.


I think the pressure came not from the FAA, but from International regulators. This is huge and will cost Boeing dearly – now airlines thinking about changing aircraft no longer have the ‘grandfathered in’ training, as a selling point ot consider.

There is also a scarcity of Max simulators (I know at one point on time, Air Canada has the only one in North America).

Quite a change…


Air Canada most likely got one because they don’t operate the 737 NG models, so they obviously don’t have NG simulators. I wonder whether they can easily “upgrade” NG simulators into MAX simulators for all airlines that have these.


Given the fact that Boeing used the non requirement of simulator training as a key sales argument I’m wondering whether Boeing will have to pay for the simulators and training.
Southwest has an exclusive clause in their sales contract granting them a million dollars per aircraft in case simulator training should be made a requirement. But other airlines could now arguably also make a point that they bought the plane with false promises and that Boeing has to foot the bill. Apart from the time factor, this could become quite costly.


310 aircraft on order – that’s 3/10ths of a billion dollars…

Boeing better get that bond offering going.

Gerry S

@mileduets: SW has a simulator clause in their contract? Sure would like to see that to believe same. If so, they are the world's only airline/entity to achieve that. Can you futher enlighten me?


With the added simulator training, what does it mean for pilots certification? Will it still share the same certification but different certificates?


It’s likely that the operators will go for compensation to cover the straight up & down costs of conversion training for all their existing pilots.? I’d imagine that many of the airlines would be happy to accept the costs back as discounts against their outstanding orders. I don’t know exactly how much the sim time would cost per pilot conversion, but there’s something around 10/12 or so pilots per aircraft for the B737, so with nearly 400 already delivered & 400 parked in Seattle, Boeing would be looking at re-training over 10,000 pilots, just to get the planes that are… Read more »

Gerry S

@milesduet: Still awaiting your response about Southwest "simulator clause" in their contract with Boeing. Until you do I will consider it fake news. Prove me wrong and I will stand corrected.