SEATTLE (Reuters) – Boeing Co is hiring up to 160 pilots to be embedded with airlines in its latest effort to ensure its 737 MAX has a smooth comeback after a 20-month safety ban, according to a recruitment document from Reuters and well-known people with the move.
The new “Global Engagement Pilots” will act as instructors or flight crew observers on 35-day assignments at an equivalent annual salary of up to $ 200,000, for a total potential cost of $ 32 million, one said.
The unusual recruiting is part of a Boeing campaign to protect the redesigned 737 MAX’s relaunch from operational failures and restore confidence after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed a total of 346 people.
The strategy also includes 24/7 surveillance of 737 MAX flights worldwide and flight attendants’ speaking points to reassure passengers who raise concerns.
“Duties include: advisory activities and customer support assistance, including flight capabilities,” said a summary seen by Reuters of the terms of employment of a contracting company conducting the recruitment on behalf of Boeing.
Pilots must have 1,000 hours of instructor experience and “no incidents, accidents, losses or violations,” and be licensed for the 737 and other Boeing jetliners, he said.
“We will continue to work closely with global regulators and customers to safely return the 737-8 and 737-9 for global service,” said a Boeing spokeswoman.
Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have said the aircraft is among the safest in the world after improvements to cockpit software and pilot training.
But a smooth return to service is considered essential for Boeing, which faces a $ 20 billion grounding cost.
Boeing has already planned an initial $ 1 billion investment in recruiting, training and developing a combat deck for the next generation of pilots.
But safety experts said his decision to directly recruit pilots is unusual and indicates that Boeing wants to jump-start its return to service and normalize the MAX as soon as possible.
CCL Aviation, based in the Isle of Man, UK, is hiring the pilots on behalf of Boeing, according to the sources and the document. The company calls itself the world’s largest supplier of flight training personnel and instructor pilots.
CCL Aviation was not immediately available for comment.
Additional pilots are just one way Boeing is closely monitoring the rollout of the 737 MAX.
Boeing has also set up a 24/7 war room in Seal Beach, California, where personnel using massive LCD screens monitor the fleet in real time for quick resolution of problems in an emergency, sources informed of the plan said. to Reuters. .
Boeing has also deployed “on-site specialist teams” with 154 team members serving five regions worldwide.
It has held talks with dozens of airlines to produce documents the airlines will use to discuss the safety of the 737 MAX with passengers, a person aware of the effort said.
That includes a one-page introduction to flight attendants with short, simple answers to passenger questions about what went wrong during the 737 MAX crashes and how Boeing solved the issues, the person said and a second industry source.
But including language about “shared responsibility” led to delays and irritated some airlines, the second person said.
Indonesian investigators have said that Boeing did not understand the risks involved in designing cockpit software on the MAX and sowed the seeds for a crash in 2018 that also involved errors by airline personnel and crew. US regulators approved the MAX last month.
Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Edited by Tim Hepher and David Gregorio