House panel approves FAA reform bill after Boeing 737 MAX crashes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. House of Representatives committee on Wednesday unanimously approved bipartisan legislation to reform the Federal Aviation Administration’s aircraft certification process after two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people.

Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said the House would vote on the sweeping reform measure later this year.

The Boeing Co BA.N 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019. Among other reforms, the bill requires that an expert panel evaluate Boeing’s safety culture and recommend improvements.

“Those crashes were the inevitable culmination of stunning acts and omissions within Boeing and the (FAA),” DeFazio said at a hearing.

He said the FAA had failed to properly ensure the safety of the 737 MAX, and called aircraft certification “a broken system that broke the public’s trust.”

Boeing and the FAA have declined to comment on the legislation.

The bill would require American aircraft manufacturers to adopt safety management systems and complete system safety assessments for significant design changes, ensure that risk calculations are based on realistic assumptions of pilot response time, and share risk assessments with the FAA.

A report released last week by House Transportation committee Democrats found that the 737 MAX crashes were the “horrific culmination” of failures by Boeing and the FAA and called for urgent reforms.

The House bill would extend airline whistleblower protections to U.S. manufacturing employees, require FAA approval of new workers who are performing delegated certification tasks for the agency, and impose civil penalties on those who interfere with the performance of FAA-authorized duties.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson is conducting an evaluation flight at the controls of a 737 MAX in Seattle, a key milestone as the U.S. planemaker works to win approval for the aircraft to resume flights.

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Source Article

Read more

House bill would give FAA new oversight powers over Boeing after 737 Max crashes

The legislation also would provide the FAA an extra $30 million a year to beef up its own engineering and technical teams and calls for some two dozen other changes to the nation’s aviation safety regime.

The crashes, the first off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018, and the second in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in March 2019, killed a total of 346. In both cases, investigators have concluded that an automated system on the planes malfunctioned, driving their noses down as the pilots struggled in vain to regain control.

The Max was grounded worldwide soon thereafter.

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), the Transportation Committee’s chairman, said an investigation by his staff into the crashes had left him “alarmed.”

“But being alarmed and outraged is not where this story should end,” DeFazio said in a statement. “With the comprehensive legislation we are unveiling today, I believe history can also show this was the moment Congress stepped up to meaningfully address the gaps in the regulatory system for certifying aircraft and adopt critical reforms that will improve public safety and ensure accountability at all levels going forward.”

The committee Republicans’ support for the bill is something of a surprise because they have previously questioned Democrats’ focus on making changes to the FAA’s safety oversight system and did not take part in the committee’s investigation.

But Rep. Sam Graves (Mo.), the committee’s top Republican, said other expert reviews of the crashes highlighted problems with how the FAA conducts approvals for new planes that ought to be addressed.

“These thorough, nonpartisan, expert reviews provided recommendations that formulated the basis of improvements we are seeking through this legislation,” Graves said in a statement. “I believe this bill will improve safety and strengthen America’s competitiveness in the aerospace industry while ensuring that the United States and the FAA continue to be the global gold standard in aviation.”

Earlier this month, the committee Democrats released the findings of their 18-month investigation into the crashes. They concluded that Boeing missed opportunities to improve the safety of the automated system that was implicated in the crashes and which its own employees had raised concerns about. The FAA, meanwhile, failed to effectively oversee the company and ensure that the Max was safe, the investigation found.

The two crashes are “clear evidence that the current regulatory system is fundamentally flawed and needs to be repaired,” the committee’s investigators wrote.

The House investigation identified two particular problems: A system in which Boeing employees are responsible for carrying out safety work on behalf of the FAA but lack independence and FAA managers who were willing to overrule their own experts on safety questions.

FAA officials have said they are pursuing changes internally, but a survey of employees in the agency’s safety branch conducted between October and February found many still faulted its dealings with big companies like Boeing. One compared meetings with the company as being like “showing up to a knife fight with Nerf weapons.”

The House legislation aims to provide

Read more

House panel slams Boeing, FAA for 737 Max crashes while calling for reforms

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 Democrat-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 said.

“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, said Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon.

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

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.

Relatives of people who died in the crashes said the report exposes the truth.

“It was an unforgivable crime, and Boeing still wants to return the aircraft to service quickly,” said Ababu Amha, whose wife was a flight attendant on the Ethiopia Airlines jet. “All those responsible for the accident should pay the price for their actions.”

Paul Njoroge of Toronto, whose wife, three young children and mother-in-law died in the Ethiopia crash while traveling to Kenya to see grandparents, said the report revealed Boeing’s culture of putting profit ahead of safety.

“There are instances in the report where some employees within Boeing tried to raise safety concern issues. But their concerns would be slammed by people within Boeing,” said Njoroge, who is among those suing the company. “This is an organization that should focus more on delivering safe planes.”

Eighteen months after the crash, Njoroge said he still relies on support from others. “It just doesn’t go away. It never leaves

Read more

FAA, Boeing Slammed for Fatal Crashes in Report by House Democrats

House Democrats released a report Wednesday detailing how design and regulatory failures by Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration led to two fatal crashes of 737 MAX planes.



a fighter jet sitting on top of a tarmac: Boeing 737 Max aircraft are parked in a parking lot at Boeing Field in Seattle, Wash., June 11, 2020.


© Lindsey Wasson/Reuters
Boeing 737 Max aircraft are parked in a parking lot at Boeing Field in Seattle, Wash., June 11, 2020.

The 238-page investigative report from staff for Democrats on the House Transportation Committee, the result of an 18-month investigation, called the deaths of 346 people in the two MAX crashes “preventable.”

“The Max crashes were not the result of a singular failure, technical mistake, or mismanaged event,” the report states. “They were the horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA.”

Boeing engaged in “a disturbing pattern of technical miscalculations and troubling management misjudgments,” and the Chicago-based aerospace company’s mistakes “point to a company culture that is in serious need of a safety reset,” the report said.

The company’s failures were particularly evident in the development of a new flight control system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, which malfunctioned in both crashes to send the planes into nose dives. Boeing employees were also under heavy pressure to complete development of the MAX on time to compete with the Airbus A320neo, the report found. Additionally, Boeing had a “culture of concealment” that resulted in crucial information being withheld from the FAA.

A brand-new Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 went down in March of last year, killing the 157 people on board. It was the second fatal crash of one of the jets in less than six months after a Lion Air Max 8 crashed in the Java Sea near Indonesia in October, 2018 killing 189 people.

Days after the Ethiopian Airlines crash, President Trump announced the U.S. was grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8s and 9s.

“We have learned many hard lessons as a company from the accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Flight 302, and from the mistakes we have made,” Boeing said statement responding to the congressional report. “We have been hard at work strengthening our safety culture and rebuilding trust with our customers, regulators, and the flying public.”

The FAA said it “is committed to continually advancing aviation safety and looks forward to working with the Committee to implement improvements identified in its report.”

More on National Review

Continue Reading

Source Article

Read more

House committee final report says Boeing, FAA failures to blame for deadly 737 MAX crashes

Paul Njoroge lost his entire family in March 2019, after Ethiopian Air Flight 302 crashed shortly after takeoff in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“I stay up nights thinking of the horror they must have endured,” Njoroge told lawmakers in a hearing on the incident last summer.

His mother-in-law, wife and three young children were flying on a Boeing 737 MAX and were victims of the second fatal accident involving the aircraft. Just months earlier, Lion Air 610, also a MAX, crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia. Both crashes resulted in the deaths of 346 people.

“As the pilots struggled to keep the plane flying for six minutes, the terror that my wife must have experienced with little Rubi on her lap, our two young children beside her crying for daddy, and my mother-in-law feeling helpless beside her,” Njoroge said. “The six minutes will forever be embedded in my mind.”

PHOTO: Debris lays piled up just outside the impact crater at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 11, 2019.

Debris lays piled up just outside the impact crater at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 11, 2019.

Debris lays piled up just outside the impact crater at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, March 11, 2019.

Days after the crash in Ethiopia, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure launched its investigation into the design, development and certification of the MAX family of aircraft and what exactly led to the two fatal crashes. On Wednesday, almost a year and a half later, lawmakers released a scathing report which concluded technical design flaws, faulty assumptions about pilot responses and management failures by both Boeing and the FAA led to the collisions.

The findings, released Wednesday by Democrats on the committee, come as civil aviation authorities and airline flight crews from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and the E.U. meet in London this week to review Boeing’s proposed training for 737 Max flight crews. This marks a significant milestone in the eventual ungrounding of the plane that has been modified for over a year.

“Boeing has now acknowledged some of these issues through its actions,” the report states. “Unfortunately, Boeing’s responses to safety issues raised in the 737 MAX program have consistently been too late.”

What happened?

Investigators found that both crashes were tied to a software called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). MCAS was designed to help stabilize the 737 MAX after heavier, re-positioned engines placed on the aircraft caused the plane’s nose to point too far upwards in certain circumstances.

In both crashes, incorrect data from a faulty sensor caused MCAS to misfire, forcing the plane to nose down repeatedly, even as pilots struggled to regain control and gain altitude. MCAS was not mentioned in the pilot manual.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the pilots in both crashes were bombarded with multiple alarms and alerts in the cockpit before the planes crashed. The blaring alarms likely caused further confusion and made an already stressful situation worse, according to the NTSB.

PHOTO: House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) delivers opening remarks during a hearing about the Boeing 737 MAX airplane on Capitol Hill, May 15, 2019.

House Transportation

Read more

737 Max crashes that killed 346 were ‘horrific culmination’ of failures by Boeing, FAA, says House report

A U.S. House investigative report into two Boeing 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people blamed the airline and the FAA for “repeated and serious failures.”

The fatal crashes in Indonesia in October 2018 and Ethiopia in March 2019 were “a horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA,” said the report released Wednesday by the Democratic-controlled House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

The committee chairman, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said in a statement that the report, written by Democratic staff, shows “how Boeing — under pressure to compete with Airbus and deliver profits for Wall Street — escaped scrutiny from the FAA, withheld critical information from pilots, and ultimately put planes into service that killed 346 innocent people.”

He added, “What’s particularly infuriating is how Boeing and FAA both gambled with public safety in the critical time period between the two crashes.”

A Lion Air crash in October 2018 in Indonesia that killed 189 people was followed five months later by an Ethiopian Airlines flight’s going down shortly after takeoff, causing the death of all 157 people aboard.

Boeing said in a statement after the report’s release that it is “dedicated to doing the work” necessary.

“We have learned many hard lessons as a company from the accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, and from the mistakes we have made,” the company said. “As this report recognizes, we have made fundamental changes to our company as a result, and continue to look for ways to improve.”

The FAA said in a statement that it “looks forward to working with the Committee to implement improvements identified in its report.”

“We are already undertaking important initiatives based on what we have learned from our own internal reviews as well as independent reviews of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents,” the agency said.

DeFazio said the House committee chose to release the report following its 18-month investigation to “spotlight not only on the broken safety culture at Boeing but also the gaps in the regulatory system at the FAA that allowed this fatally-flawed plane into service.”

The committee’s statement said its 239-page report, with more than 70 investigative findings, reveals “repeated and serious failures” by both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The report claims that Boeing made “extensive efforts to cut costs” due to financial pressure and refused to slow its 737 MAX production line, jeopardizing safety.

It also alleges that Boeing withheld “crucial information” from the FAA, and that the federal agency’s regulation of the airline was hurt by its current oversight structure with respect to Boeing, which “creates inherent conflicts of interest.”

Source Article

Read more

House report rips Boeing, FAA over mistakes before 737 Max crashes

The two fatal crashes involving Boeing 737 Max aircraft were “preventable” and “never should have happened,” the chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said on Wednesday.

Rep. Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioPelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief Trump Jr. seeks to elect ‘new blood’ to Republican Party OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump’s pitch to Maine lobstermen falls flat | White House pushed to release documents on projects expedited due to coronavirus | Trump faces another challenge to rewrite of bedrock environmental law NEPA MORE‘s (D-Ore.) comments came as the committee published its report on the 737 Max line and its 18-month investigation, which involved Boeing employees and thousands of pages of company documents.

The report found “repeated and serious failures by both The Boeing Company (Boeing) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) during the 737 Max’s design process.” The lawmakers said those failures were due to Boeing’s desire to compete with rival manufacturer Airbus and push out the new line of aircraft in a timely fashion.

“There was tremendous financial pressure on Boeing and the 737 MAX program to compete with Airbus’ new A320neo aircraft. Among other things, this pressure resulted in extensive efforts to cut costs, maintain the 737 MAX program schedule, and avoid slowing the 737 MAX production line,” reads the report’s summary.

“Boeing withheld crucial information from the FAA, its customers, and 737 MAX pilots, including internal test data that revealed it took a Boeing test pilot more than 10 seconds to diagnose and respond to uncommanded MCAS activation in a flight simulator, a condition the pilot described as ‘catastrophic,'” the report continued. The MCAS anti-stall system pushed the planes’ noses down in both fatal crashes.

Company officials told The New York Times that they were working to improve the 737 Max line based on recommendations from experts and government regulators.

“Boeing cooperated fully and extensively with the committee’s inquiry since it began in early 2019,” said Boeing in a statement, according to the Times. “We have been hard at work strengthening our safety culture and rebuilding trust with our customers, regulators and the flying public.”

DeFazio went on in a statement accompanying his committee’s report to say that the FAA should have acted sooner after the first fatal crash involving a Boeing 737 Max airliner, when Lion Air Flight 610 crashed less than 20 minutes after departing from Jakarta, Indonesia, killing 189 people on board.

“Our report lays out disturbing revelations about how Boeing—under pressure to compete with Airbus and deliver profits for Wall Street—escaped scrutiny from the FAA, withheld critical information from pilots, and ultimately put planes into service that killed 346 innocent people,” said DeFazio. “What’s particularly infuriating is how Boeing and FAA both gambled with public safety in the critical time period between the two crashes.”

“On behalf of the families of the victims of both crashes, as well as anyone who steps on a plane expecting to arrive at their destination safely, we are

Read more

House panel blasts Boeing and FAA over fatal 737 Max crashes

A House committee issued a scathing report Wednesday questioning whether Boeing and government regulators have recognized the 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 Democrat-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 many deficiencies in the Federal Aviation Administration approval process for new jetliners. But both the agency and Boeing have said certification of the Max complied with FAA regulations, the 246-page report said.

“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, said Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon.

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

He wouldn’t give details of possible changes, 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.

The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday could make changes to a bipartisan bill introduced in June 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.

The investigators mainly focused on the reason Boeing was able to get the jet approved with minimal pilot training: It convinced the FAA that the Max was an updated version of previous generation 737s.

But in fact, Boeing equipped the plane with software called MCAS, an acronym for Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which automatically lowers the plane’s nose to prevent an aerodynamic stall. Initially, pilots worldwide weren’t told about the system, which Boeing said was needed because the Max had bigger, more powerful engines that were placed further forward on the wings than in the older 737s.

In both

Read more