Boeing is advising that pilots receive more simulator training on how to fly the company's troubled 737 Max plane, a reversal from the aircraft maker's previous stance.
Boeing executives have long maintained that operating a 737 Max is similar to flying previous 737s. The company previously said that pilots who can fly older versions of the plane only needed a computer course — a roughly hour-long course on a tablet — to fly the Max. That helped airlines avoid timely and costly training in simulators.
"Safety is Boeing's top priority," interim Boeing CEO Greg Smith said in a statement on Tuesday. "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."
Worldwide, there are 34 simulators for the 737 Max, with 26 owned by airline operators; Boeing owns the remaining eight. Getting all pilots trained on the simulator could further delay the aircraft's return to service, according to CBS transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave.
Boeing officials said their recommendation "takes into account our unstinting commitment to the safe return of service as well as changes to the airplane and test results."
Boeing and the FAA have been reviewing results from simulator testing with 737 pilots employed by American Airlines, Southwest, United and Aeromexico. Half of those tested did not follow the correct safety procedures when responding to emergency scenarios, according to a Boeing official familiar with the testing. The half who didn't follow procedure promoted Boeing to re-think its position on simulator training.
Last year, an FAA technical advisory board sided with Boeing and recommended that only computer-based training was needed. However, families of victims of the two crashes pushed for additional simulator training, arguing that pilots need to experience in a simulator how the Max differs from previous versions of the 737 before the aircraft return to service.
The FAA will ultimately determine if such additional training is required.
"The agency will consider Boeing's recommendations for flight crew simulator training during the upcoming Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB), which is a key component of the ongoing certification work," the FAA said in a statement. "Data from those tests will be used to develop a Flight Standardization Board (FSB) report that will detail the FAA's official recommendations for training. "
There is no timeline for the 737 Max's return to flight. The planes, some 800 or so, have been grounded worldwide since March after two crashes linked to a design defect killed 346 people.
CBS News' Kris Van Cleave and The Associated Press contributed to this report.