FAA grilled again over Boeing 737 MAX crisis

Sergio Conner
May 18, 2019

"I don't know that understanding this system would've changed the outcome on this".

CNN reported that Elwell pledged to reap lessons from ongoing investigations and reviews by spectators who want to ensure that the Boeing 737 Max models are safe to fly.

"The FAA has a credibility problem", declared the subcommittee chairman, Rick Larsen, D-Wash. Boeing planes worldwide have been grounded following the deadly incidents. The pilots likewise whined they had not been told about MCAS, which was new to the 737 Max, until after the Lion Air crash off Indonesia, which costed lives of 189. In total, 346 people died in the two crashes. "We don't have the information about it", she said. Also, 12 of Boeing's 787 Dreamliners were also sold in the same month.

Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio says pilots weren't even aware of the feature. He said he's hopeful they will provide the documents voluntarily. "We've got to get to the bottom of this".

Elwell refuted reports that the FAA wasn't directly involved in approving the plane's flight-control system.

Both planes were equipped with a system created to push the nose downward to prevent a midair stall.

In the recording obtained by CBS, pilots were angry - they hadn't known MCAS even existed.

"I, at the beginning when I first heard of this, thought that the MCAS should have been more adequately explained in the ops manual and the flight manual, absolutely", Elwell said. Boeing is redesigning the system to make it less prone to operate in error.

Elwell, a former commercial pilot, said he believes the certification process has adequate oversight and safeguards against conflicts of interest, though it could always be made better.

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American Airlines pilots pressed Boeing in November - shortly after the first Max crash - to fix the software quickly.

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".

Asked for comment on DeFazio's statement regarding records, Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said, "Boeing continues to support the ongoing accident investigations and is committed to working closely with Members of Congress, their staff and relevant officials". A malfunction of the system was deemed to be "major" or the more serious classification "hazardous", depending on when it occurred during flight, according to the FAA.

CBS News obtained audio of American Airlines pilots complaining to a Boeing official a year ago that even they were not informed about the new system.

Nadia Milleron, whose daughter, Samya Stumo, was on the Ethiopian Airlines plane, was in the audience at Wednesday's hearing.

Elwell said he expects Boeing to make its formal submission for a MCAS software update in the next week or so.

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.

"The long-standing collaborative engagement between the FAA, Boeing, its customers and industry partners has created the safest transportation system in the world", the company said. This week Boeing acknowledged that factory-fresh 737 MAX planes are being sent to a San Antonio facility for storage.

Across Capitol Hill, the Senate Commerce Committee held a relatively placid hearing for Dickson, the nominee to replace Elwell, FAA's acting administrator since January 2018. "Therefore, the foundation of the USA aviation system is safety".

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