Boeing, FAA share blame in certification of the 737 Max

More than 340 people were killed in two crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max

More than 340 people were killed in two crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max

American Airlines said on Wednesday it expects its fleet of Boeing 737 Max jets to return to passenger service later than expected on January 16, 2019, after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) sign off on revisions meant to remedy flaws that led to the deaths of 346 people in two crashes.

In both incidents, investigators focused on the role played by a software system called MCAS (Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System), which was created to make the aircraft easier to fly.

The FAA's administrator, Steve Dickson, said in a statement that he would 'review every recommendation and take appropriate action.

Boeing's board said on Friday it was working to ensure full support to Boeing's customers, and bring changes to sharpen the company's focus on product and services safety.

"With adequate FAA engagement and oversight, the extent of delegation does not in itself compromise safety", states the report, which is scheduled to be released officially later today (Oct. 11).

During the certification process of the MAX, MCAS was not evaluated as a "complete and integrated function" of the aircraft.

The report said the FAA had just 45 people in an office overseeing Boeing's Organization Designation Authority (ODA) and its 1,500 employees.

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In a report published on Friday, the panel found that the the agency's "limited involvement" and "inadequate awareness" of the automated MCAS safety system "resulted in an inability of the FAA to provide an independent assessment".

The report found that Boeing removed mention of MCAS from a draft of its pilot manual, meaning some FAA officials were not entirely aware of MCAS and were 'not in a position to adequately assess training needs'.

The FAA certified the MAX in 2017.

"Some elements of the design and certification remain rooted in the original 1967 certification of the B737-100, ' investigators noted". The Southwest pilots' union, however, recently filed a lawsuit arguing that Boeing deliberately put profits before safety and "made a calculated decision to rush a re-engined aircraft to market to secure its single-aisle market share and prioritise its bottom line".

At issue is the long-standing practice of the FAA delegating certification tasks to Boeing and other manufacturers.

It's claimed the FAA has already taken steps to address these recommendations, which in large has contributed to the prolonged grounding of the MAX, which is now expected to return early 2020.

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