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Were Boeing 737 MAX Pilots Only Trained On iPads?

By Victoria M. Walker

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It’s been a rough few weeks for Boeing.

After a crash involving an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner, the FBI has opened a criminal probe into how the 737 MAX 8 jet received its safety certifications. Several countries including Ethiopia, China, and Singapore, also grounded the Boeing jet, while the U.S. grounded all 737 Max planes on March 13.

Now, according to a Seattle Times report, a pilot said that his training on the 737 MAX jet consisted of an hour-long session using an iPad. Minimizing the training saved Boeing’s customers money, the Seattle Times reported, which was a key selling point.

RELATED: Deadly Ethiopian Airlines Crash Raises Questions About The Boeing 737 Max

“We received an iPad lesson, 56 minutes long, basically slides and some audio to describe some of the differences on the 737 Max, because at the time, the FAA, and still to this day, approved that as the required training for pilots,” Dennis Tajer, a pilot for American Airlines, told WBUR. “We found it to be certainly the absolute minimum.”

Tajer told WBUR that relevant information about flying the plane wasn’t in the pilot manual.

“What we study and prepare for, the information was absent,” he says. “It was zero.”

RELATED: The Lives Lost In The Ethiopian Airlines Crash

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed shortly after takeoff from Bole Airport on March 10, killing everyone on board. According to a Reuters report, the pilot of the doomed jet requested permission to climb before asking permission to return due to a “flight control problem.” Ethiopian said in a statement Thursday that its pilots “completed the Boeing recommended and FAA approved differences training” between the 737 NG and 737 MAX models.

Preliminary reports suggested that the crash bore similarities to a Lion Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea in Indonesia in October. There were no survivors.

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Victoria M. Walker

Victoria M. Walker is an award-winning multimedia journalist and full-time lecturer in the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film at her alma mater, Howard University. She was previously the breaking news and viral content video editor at The Washington Post.

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