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USA aviation chief faces grilling over Boeing revelations

18 May 2019

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.

Family members of the Ethiopian Airlines crash victims expressed disappointment over the projected recertification of Boeing's 737 Max jets sometime August.

The meeting between American Airlines pilots and Boeing took place in November 2018 - just weeks after a Lion Air crash in Indonesia, and four months before an Ethiopian Airlines jet plummeted after take-off, killing at least 157 on board.

"The use of this outside third party review on un-grounding the airplanes in the future, and their establishment of a blue ribbon commission, using authorities that we put into the FAA law previous year to look at the broader certification of airplanes is an important step as well", Congressman Larsen said.

"I certainly wouldn't characterize it as rushed", Elwell said. The FAA was the last major world regulator to ground the plane and did so only after Donald Trump announced that the plane would be grounded.

FAA acting chief Daniel Elwell said that the agency was directly involved in approving the flight-control system, participating in a test flight of the system that drove down the nose in the two accidents. "And we need the knowledge", one of the pilots said.

A combined 346 people died in the crashes. Almost 350 people died in the crashes, which investigators have said were influenced by an automated flight system on the airliner.

"I'm hoping that they will provide the documents we have requested voluntarily and in the not-too-distant future", DeFazio said, adding the accidents have led to questions worldwide over the FAA's certification process.

"We're going to look into that", Elwell 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.

A common link in both crashes was the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System.

Of issue in particular is the credibility of the FAA, and whether these hearings helped to assuage some of the concern, since the United States was one of the last countries to ground the flights.

Now, as the investigation into the cause of the crashes is still ongoing, a recording obtained by CBS News indicates that pilots didn't feel comfortable flying the planes even before the March crash.

"It wasn't in the manual and they didn't know about it", said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon).

The IATA event is for airlines only but will include updates from the FAA and Boeing.

The Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines pilots, tweeted a Dallas Morning News article on the meeting. This week Boeing acknowledged that factory-fresh 737 MAX planes are being sent to a San Antonio facility for storage.

"The unions are concerned that the safety benefits of a second set of eyes provided by direct oversight of both domestic and foreign certification projects in high risk aspects of the certification process has not been recognized as an essential function within" FAA, the unions wrote in the report.

Representatives from China Eastern, Air China, China Southern and Boeing declined to comment.

USA aviation chief faces grilling over Boeing revelations