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Acting FAA Chief Defends Agency's Safety Certification Process

Acting FAA Chief Defends Agency's Safety Certification Process

A technical advisory board named by the agency will provide a "third set of eyes", and its recommendations will directly affect the timing of the grounded Max's return to service, Elwell said at a hearing in Washington.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., told Elwell that the public believes "you were in bed with those you were supposed to be regulating, and that's why it took so long" to ground the planes.

The chair of the subcommittee is Democratic Congressman Rick Larsen from Everett, and he joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss what came of the hearings, and what to expect in the future. Boeing has dropped 196 orders for the 737 from its order book so far this year while netting 25 sales of the single-aisle planes.

Officials said they would make software changes, but that they didn't want to rush the process, CBS reports. In total, 346 people died in the two crashes.

"If we have robust oversight, and we have all the protections in place to guard against conflicts of interest or undue pressure, which I believe we now have, it's a good system", Elwell said.

That union brought a recording device to a meeting with Boeing shortly after the first 737 Max crash, a Lion Air flight off Indonesia.

The FAA is overseeing Boeing's MCAS upgrade as both it and Boeing face federal investigations, including by the US Department of Justice.

Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat of OR, struck a sharper tone, criticizing Boeing for pilot manuals that didn't mention a new automated flight-control system implicated in both accidents.

Elwell defended FAA's practice of designating employees of Boeing and other aerospace manufacturers to do some inspection work, saying it takes advantage of industry expertise, and "when done right, is indispensable to the health and safety of our system".

Elwell said the FAA was a "data-driven, risk based system" and acted after it had received sufficient data to link the two crashes.

The agency will thoroughly evaluate changes to a safety software system known as the "maneuvering characteristics augmentation system", or MCAS, that is linked to the crashes, and will unground the planes "once we are absolutely convinced" it is safe, he said.

Union groups have claimed pilots were not properly trained on the MCAS, and Boeing has been criticised for failing to warn airlines of potential hazards with the feature.

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"When I first heard of this, (I) thought that the MCAS should have been more adequately explained in the ops manual and the flight manual, " Elwell said.

After a sensor on 737 Max jets in Indonesia and Ethiopia malfunctioned, MCAS continually attempted to make the aircraft dive.

"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.

Representative Sam Graves, Republican of Missouri, said the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes illustrated problems with pilot training and with the capacity of overseas regulators.

Boeing VP Mike Sinnett told the pilots: "Nobody still can't seem to infer that the sole reason for this was this capacity on the plane". Only after those things are established will the FAA allow the 737 MAX to fly again.

Boeing representatives were not invited to Wednesday's hearing.

Boeing has said a fix is coming soon, but the planes won't be back in the air for several more weeks at the earliest.

A Boeing executive at the meeting defended the plane.

"We shouldn't have to be here today", he said.

IATA counts around 290 airlines as members of its association, of which 28 have the Boeing 737 MAX in their fleet.

The carriers also accounted for 65 per cent of passengers who flew Chinese airlines in 2018, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.