Boeing, FAA both faulted in certification of the 737 Max

Clay Curtis
October 12, 2019

Boeing Co said on Friday it was separating the roles of chairman and chief executive officer to allow CEO Dennis Muilenburg to focus full time on running the USA plane maker as it works to return its 737 MAX jet to service.

In Friday's report, the panel notes that the FAA's difficulty in finding and hiring certification engineers with adequate knowledge of aircraft's increasingly complex automated systems also contributed to deficiencies in reviewing aircraft.

Boeing has been struggling to put its best-selling 737 MAX jet back in the air after two fatal crashes led to its global grounding in March.

A newly released report faults both the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing for failures in the overall certification of the Boeing 737 Max.

Hart says the review did not find any evidence of a deliberate effort by Boeing to mislead regulators; instead, he blamed poor communication.

In a statement, FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson said the agency will review the 12 recommendations from the JATR, and while he did not commit to implementing all of them, some changes within the FAA and its certification process are already underway. It took five months to prepare its report, and received briefings from Boeing and the FAA.

An investigation conducted by the New York Times found that such tweaks made MCAS more influential and more temperamental, with key FAA officials unaware of the changes.

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Boeing pledged to work with the FAA on the recommendations.

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It also found that Boeing staff performing the certification were also subject to "undue pressures. which further erodes the level of assurance in this system of delegation".

"There are signs of undue pressure" on Boeing employees doing this work, the JATR said, "which may be attributed to conflicting priorities and an environment that does not support FAA requirements".

Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said safety was "a core value for everyone at Boeing", and that the company was "committed to working with the FAA in reviewing the recommendations and helping to continuously improve the process and approach used to validate and certify airplanes going forward".

A U.S. Senate panel last month approved legislation to increase aviation safety budgets by $31.8 million and require the FAA to finalize its rule-making on safety management systems for aircraft manufacturers.

The report goes on to criticize the FAA for lacking sufficient personnel with the expertise needed to fully evaluate such complex systems.

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