Boss backs how FAA dealt with 737 Max

The 737 MAX 8 is currently grounded worldwide after the March crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that killed all 157 people onboard. — Reuters pic

The acting director of the FAA says Boeing should have done more to explain an automated flight control system on its 737 Max aircraft that is believed to have played a roll in two crashes of passenger jets since october.

Acting FAA chief Daniel Elwell told the House aviation subcommittee that his agency "welcomes scrutiny that helps make us better".

Just months before a second deadly crash of a Boeing 737 Max airplane, American Airlines pilots angrily confronted a Boeing official about a computerized anti-stall system that preliminary reports have now implicated in both deadly wrecks, audio obtained by CBS News reveals.

The Transportation Department's inspector general and two congressional committees are looking into the FAA's relationship with Boeing.

"I've never looked at an accident where there weren't three or four or five links of the chain, any one of which, if it hadn't gone wrong, the plane would have survived", he said.

A Boeing 737 MAX 8 aeroplane built for India-based Jet Airways lands from a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle. "And we need the knowledge", one of the pilots said.

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.

"What I'm asking you to do if you're confirmed is be pissed off that 346 people died. and that was preventable", Cruz told Dickson.

"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. Boeing will train pilots before allowing the planes to fly again.

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

The growing use of designated employees to assist in certification is part of the evolving philosophy of greater cooperation between the FAA and the companies it regulates, Boeing said in a statement. In both cases, the MCAS system was repeatedly trying to push the plane into a dive.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from OR, the chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said Boeing "has yet to provide a single document" in response to the committee's records requests.

The pilots did not know the planes were equipped with the anti-stall system and their manuals had no explicit information. United UAL said that it learned about the deactivated feature after the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March.

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.

Elwell, who defended at length FAA's certification process, said on Wednesday that he was "not aware of an internal assessment that reaches that conclusion". Boeing officials did not testify.

At a separate hearing Wednesday, senators pressed the nominee to become FAA administrator, Stephen Dickson, on whether the agency needs to change procedures that led to certification of the 737 Max.

Boeing said last week it only discovered once deliveries of the 737 MAX had begun in 2017 that the so-called AOA Disagree alert was optional instead of standard as it had intended, but added that was not critical safety data.

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