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Boeing 737 Max crash: FAA defends handling of aircraft after deadly crashes
16 May 2019, 08:50 | Glen Norman
Pilots confronted Boeing about 737 Max before second crash
Congress is stepping up its investigation into the FAA's approval of the troubled Boeing 737 Max airliner, as members of a House aviation panel are set to question Elwell on Wednesday, May 15.
"The worst thing that can ever happen is a tragedy like this, and the even worse thing would be another one", he said later in the meeting held four months before the Ethiopian Airlines disaster.
Acting FAA administrator Daniel Elwell said he was "not aware of an internal assessment that reaches that conclusion". Only after those things are established will the FAA allow the 737 MAX to fly again.
The FAA has defended the certification process for the 737 Max, saying it was done according to long-standing practice.
Representative Rick Larsen, a Washington Democrat who chaired the hearing, said he would press for answers to ensure safety.
The 737 Next Gen models that preceded the Max family have one of the lowest accident rates of any modern jetliners, according to Boeing's annual accident summary.
"We remain confident that the impending software updates, along with the new training elements Boeing is developing for the MAX, will lead to recertification of the aircraft soon", said an American Airlines spokesman.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., criticized Boeing for pilot manuals that didn't mention a new automated flight-control system implicated in both accidents, and for a design that pitched the plane's nose down based on readings from a single sensor that could fail.
The preliminary findings, reported by The Wall Street Journal, are the first to shed light on how the faulty design of the so-called MCAS system, which led to crashes that killed 346 people in October and March, remained in the Max fleet.
Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Elwell said his hope was for better coordination in returning the 737 MAX to the skies than had been the case in grounding it, when global aviation authorities acted separately. "We've got to get to the bottom of this". The investigation results so far, however, have not suggested Boeing intentionally misled the FAA.
The Transportation Department's inspector general and a Senate committee are looking into the FAA's relationship with Boeing, and the House subcommittee is likely to follow a similar path.
The FAA reportedly finds that senior agency officials failed to monitor key safety assessments of Boeing's 737 Max flight-control system.
Newsreports on the eve of the hearing chronicled a 27 November meeting, which came after the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, at which American Airlines pilots pressed Boeing for safety changes that could have temporarily grounded the plane. "We don't want to rush and do a crappy job of fixing the right things, and we also don't want to fix the wrong things".
National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt also testified. The nominee, Stephen Dickson, is a former military and airline pilot and Delta Air Lines executive. But he says the industry is only as good as the last takeoff or landing. The agency has not had a permanent director since January 2018.
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