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Veteran pilot flies Boeing 737 Max with ‘concern’ after latest incidents

While American Airlines Captain Dennis Tajer doesn't fly with fear, he does have concern when getting into the cockpit given the issues Boeing continues to have.

American Airlines Capt. Dennis Tajer has flown Boeing aircraft during his more than 30-year career as a pilot, including his time in the military. 

During combat, when Tajer flew Boeing 707 jets, he was used to the enemy being outside the plane. Now, Tajer told FOX Business he is more concerned about what's happening inside the aircraft.

"I have flown in the military, in combat, and they saved my life many times when the enemy was outside the airplane. Now, I feel like the enemy is within," Tajer told FOX Business.

Today, Tajer flies Boeing's 737 Max. And while he said he never flies with fear, he admitted that he does fly with concern. 

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"I don't trust Boeing and what effort they put into the 737 Max. It's been shaken once again," he added.  

The 737 Max 8 model made headlines in 2018 and 2019 when it was involved in two fatal crashes just months apart. In October 2018, a Lion Air flight crashed in Indonesia, killing all 189 people aboard. In March 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed, killing all 157 passengers and crew.

However, Tajer trusts his training and the procedures pilots use that "can save the airplane when things don't work." 

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"I am on the airplane to ensure when things go bad, they don't go really bad. That's what all my training is about," he said. "When Boeing inserts unforced errors into my cockpit, it just adds to the level of complexity of what I'm doing." 

Boeing declined to comment.

Tajer commended FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker for putting "boots on the ground" at Boeing after the door plug blew off an Alaska Airlines flight earlier this year. 

However, "they need to do that at the airlines. They need to do that at the airlines' maintenance shops. They need to do that everywhere," Tajer added. 

After the Jan. 5 incident involving the Alaska Airlines 737 Max, the FAA began investigating the airplane maker and its supplier, Spirit AeroSystems. 

As the FAA continues to investigate the matter, it informed Boeing it would not be granted any production expansion of the Max for the time being. 

Now, the issue is that with fewer airplanes available to fly due to new aircraft certification and manufacturing delays at Boeing, "airline management teams are now squeezing the most out of the airplanes they currently have," Tajer said. "That is causing what we are seeing as a reduction in checks … and legally deferring repairs on an airplane until later."

Tajer said just because it's legal doesn't mean it's "safe, smart or sensible." 

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In a preliminary report of the Alaska Airlines incident, the National Transportation Safety Board discovered four key bolts missing from the door plug that fell off the jet.

The FAA has already discovered multiple cases in which Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems allegedly failed to comply with manufacturing quality control requirements.

Whitaker said last month Boeing had 90 days to develop a comprehensive plan to address "systemic quality control issues" following an all-day meeting with Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun and the aerospace giant's safety team.

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