FAA chief defends handling of Boeing Max safety approval


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

The acting chief of the Federal Aviation Administration defended his agency’s safety certification of the Boeing 737 Max jetliner, the plane involved in two deadly crashes, and the FAA’s decision not to ground the jet until other regulators around the world had already done so.

During a congressional hearing Wednesday, the FAA official, Daniel Elwell, also stood by the agency’s decades-old policy of using employees of aircraft manufacturers like Boeing to conduct inspections on their own companies’ work.

Boeing is updating an automated flight-control system that has been implicated in the two crashes involving the 737 Max. Elwell said he expects Boeing to complete its work “in the next week or so,” after which the FAA will analyze the software changes and conduct test flights.

“In the U.S., the 737 Max will return to service only when the FAA’s analysis of the facts and technical data indicate that it is safe to do so,” Elwell said.

Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce Committee held a short hearing for President Donald Trump’s choice to take over the FAA: Stephen Dickson, a former Delta Air Lines pilot and executive.

During the two-hour questioning of Elwell by the House aviation subcommittee, lawmakers pressed him on the FAA’s reliance on designated Boeing employees during the planes’ certification process.

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