Boeing should reconsider pilots' response time: NTSB

Federal safety officials say Boeing should consider how cockpit confusion can slow the response of pilots who are dealing with the kind of problem that likely caused two airliners to crash in the past year.

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They suggest that Boeing underestimated the time it takes for pilots to diagnose and react when they are being bombarded by multiple, cascading warning alerts.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued several recommendations Thursday after taking part in investigations into two crashes of Boeing 737 Max jets. The Max was grounded worldwide in March after two fatal crashes involving the jet. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed in March killing 157 people, and in October, a Lion Air Max jet crashed off the coast of Indonesia killing 189 people.

The board's aviation safety director says research shows that when many alarms compete for pilots' attention, they don't always respond as quickly as intended.


Earlier this week, investigators looking into a whistleblower complaint said the Federal Aviation Administration misled Congress about an issue regarding safety inspectors who worked on training requirements for the beleaguered jet's pilots. The U.S. Special Counsel's Office, which reviews whistleblower complaints independently, determined the inspectors themselves were "underqualified."

“The FAA is entrusted with the critically important role of ensuring aircraft safety," special counsel Henry J. Kerner said in a statement on Tuesday. “The FAA's failure to ensure safety inspector competency for these aircraft puts the flying public at risk."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.