Nation & World

Panel's report blasts Boeing, FAA for crashes

House committee questions if they'll be willing to make changes

The FAA and airplane manufacturer Boeing have said certification of the 737 MAX complied with FAA regulations. (DPA/TNS)
The FAA and airplane manufacturer Boeing have said certification of the 737 MAX complied with FAA regulations. (DPA/TNS)

A House committee issued a scathing report Wednesday questioning whether Boeing and government regulators have recognized problems that caused two deadly 737 MAX jet crashes and whether either will be willing to make significant changes to fix them.

Staff members from the Democratic-controlled Transportation Committee blamed the crashes that killed 346 people on the “horrific culmination” of failed government oversight, design flaws and a lack of action at Boeing despite knowing about problems.

The committee identified deficiencies in the Federal Aviation Administration approval process for new jetliners.

But the agency and Boeing have said certification of the MAX complied with FAA regulations, the 246-page report stated.

“The fact that a compliant airplane suffered from two deadly crashes in less than five months is clear evidence that the current regulatory system is fundamentally flawed and needs to be repaired,” the staff wrote in the report released early Wednesday.

The report highlights the need for legislation to fix the approval process and deal with the FAA’s delegation of some oversight tasks to aircraft manufacturer employees, committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said.

“Obviously the system is inadequate,” DeFazio said. “We will be adopting significant reforms.”

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He wouldn’t give details, saying committee leaders are in talks with Republicans about legislation.

He said the committee won’t scrap the delegation program, and he hopes to reach agreement on reforms before year’s end.

A Senate committee on Wednesday could make changes to a bipartisan bill giving the FAA more control over picking company employees who sign off on safety decisions.

One improvement may be that a plane with significant changes from previous models would need more FAA review.

The House report stems from an 18-month investigation into the October 2018 crash of Lion Air flight 610 in Indonesia and the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in March of 2019.

The MAX was grounded worldwide shortly after the Ethiopia crash. Regulators are testing planes with revamped flight control software, and Boeing hopes to get the MAX flying again late this year or early in 2021.

In an interview with investigators, Keith Leverkuhn, former Boeing general manager for the MAX who was promoted in the company, said he considered development of the MAX a success despite the crashes.

“I do challenge the suggestion that the development was a failure,” the report quotes him as saying.

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