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NTSB urges pilot training for 737 rudder problem

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March 10, 1997
Web posted at: 8:00 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The National Transportation Safety Board wants airline pilots to be trained and new procedures developed to handle rudder problems on Boeing 737s until design problems can be corrected.

NTSB Chairman Jim Hall made the request Tuesday while testifying before a House subcommittee.

Colorado crash

Safety investigators concluded rudder problems may have contributed to unexplained "rollover" crashes of a United Airlines 737 in Colorado in 1991 and a USAir 737 near Pittsburgh in 1994.

Hall pointed out while the Federal Aviation Administration has agreed to require Boeing to modify the 737 rudder, the agency has not yet issued the order. Once the FAA does act, airlines will still have two years before they must begin retrofitting their aircraft, he added.

"Our concern is, when is the two years going to begin?" said NTSB top investigator Bernard Loeb. "It hasn't commenced yet, and we have no assurances from the FAA or Boeing as to when it will commence."

Loeb said until then, 737 pilots need additional training and new operational procedures need to be developed to cope with potential rudder jams.

In January, the FAA issued an airworthiness directive ordering airlines to provide flight manuals that outline procedures for pilots to regain control of a 737 that goes into a sudden turn or roll.

U.S. airlines have about 1,700 737s, and there are about 2,800 such planes worldwide.

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