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

Daniel Fowler
December 12, 2019

Dickson told CNBC in an interview ahead of his testimony before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that there are almost a dozen milestones that must be completed before the plane can return to service.

"It is alarming that these sensors failed on multiple flights mere months after the airplanes were manufactured in a factory experiencing frequent wiring problems and functional test issues", Pierson said at a hearing before USA lawmakers.

The committee, which grilled Boeing President Dennis Muilenburg on October 30, is turning its attention to how the FAA certified the plane with a flight control system implicated in the two fatal crashes.

"Yes", Federal Aviation Authority chief Stephen Dickson said on Wednesday when asked if the FAA was mistaken in allowing the Max to remain on the air after the first crash. Instead, the FAA and Boeing issued notices reminding pilots how to handle a nose-down pitch of their plane.

"Obviously the result was not satisfactory", said Mr Dickson. "The decision did not achieve the result it was meant to achieve".

The FAA concluded that more than 2,900 people could die in Max crashes over 45 years without the software fix.

Dickson said he was intent on improving the FAA's operations to prevent future crashes.

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.

A grounded TUI Airways Boeing 737 Max jet sits at a Boeing employee parking lot in Seattle, Wash., on July 1, 2019.

Dickson defended the safety record of USA aviation while saying "what we have done in the past and what we are doing now will not be good enough in the future".

The manager, Edward Pierson, said the assembly line fell far behind schedule by mid-2018 because of cascading problems that began with late delivery of key parts.

Evidence shows a senior Boeing production executive who discovered preliminary problems with Max tried in vain to get the company to make changes to the plane four months before the first crash.

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Lofty Hopes, a pigeon advocacy and rescue group, is working to safely remove the hats. The charity has even put a wanted poster out for the capture of the animals.

A Boeing spokesman said the company agreed with the FAA's response to the Lion Air crash.

Pierson, who retired a year ago, said he wrote to Dickson and other officials. Dickson has insisted that the FAA has no timetable for granting that approval.

"The FAA also failed to do its job".

"Boeing made egregious errors", DeFazio said.

That revelation drew urgent questions in Congress Wednesday as to why the MAX was not grounded then, before the second crash in Ethiopia.

All 346 people aboard both new planes were killed after the pilots lost control.

Several relatives of passengers who died in the crashes attended Wednesday's hearing.

He denied lawmakers' suggestions that FAA staff prioritized certification over safety in the interest of meeting work and compensation targets.

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

DeFazio and other lawmakers have indicated they may offer legislation to overhaul the way the FAA certifies new aircraft.

When Dickson was pushed to say whether the FAA had made a mistake in the decision not to ground the MAX following the high risk analysis, he resisted a definitive answer. But, he added, "The system is not broken".

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