Boeing 737 Max certification to extend into 2020, FAA chief says

Andrew Cummings
December 12, 2019

But Dickson said, "I've made it very clear Boeing's plan is not the FAA's plan".

Boeing has been aiming to win regulatory approval this month, with flights projected to resume in January.

Ed Pierson, a former Boeing manager who raised concerns about potential safety flaws with the now-grounded 737 Max airliners also testified before the committee on Wednesday, Pierson, who worked as a senior manager at Boeing's Renton, Wash., factory before retiring a year ago, said there was a push by the company to increase monthly production of the 737 Max - and it led to some employees working seven days a week, and in some cases performing jobs for which they had no training.

Numerous questions at the subsequent hearing in the House Transportation Committee focused on why the FAA did not move more aggressively after the first crash.

The review predicted 15 fatal crashes were possible if no changes were made to flight-control software which has been implicated in both crashes over the course of the plane's lifetime.

After the first crash of a Boeing 737 Max a year ago, federal safety officials estimated that there could be 15 more fatal crashes of the Max over the next few decades if Boeing didn't fix a critical automated flight-control system.

It will still take airlines weeks or even months longer to get their planes back in the air.

Meanwhile, FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson told the committee, "We are humbled when our best efforts fail".

The process for approving the MAX's return to the skies still has 10 or 11 milestones left to complete, including a certification flight and a public comment period on pilot training requirements, he told CNBC before the hearing.

"Obviously the result was not satisfactory", said Mr Dickson, who was put in charge of the FAA in the summer, after the accidents.

"We really didn't know what the causes were" of the Lion Air crash, Dickson said, adding that issues with aircraft maintenance and pilot performance were also factors besides the MCAS. "The decision did not achieve the result that it needed to achieve".

Boeing's 737 Max certification, needed to end the jet's nine-month worldwide grounding by regulators, will extend into 2020, the top U.S. aviation regulator said on Wednesday (Dec 11).

"Despite its own calculations, the FAA rolled the dice on the safety of the travelling public and let the 737 MAX continue to fly until Boeing could overhaul its MCAS software", said Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the company was aware of Pierson's concerns and took "appropriate steps to assess them".

The spokesperson said that the analysis "provided additional context in helping determine the mitigation action".

Dickson said he was determined to improve the agency's operations to prevent future crashes.

Michael Collins, a former FAA safety engineer who has criticized the agency's move to delegate some decisions to Boeing, also planned to testify.

Other reports by iNewsToday