Congressional investigators place blame on Boeing, FAA for 2 crashes that killed 346 people

Washington DC Bureau

WASHINGTON D.C. (WCMH) — The House Transportation Committee released it’s final report Wednesday on its investigation of the Boeing 737 max airplanes.

Congressional investigators say both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration share responsibility for approving an aircraft that wasn’t fit to fly.

That aircraft, the 737 max, was involved in two fatal crashes that killed 346 people before it was grounded.

“Our 18-month investigation has revealed that the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX was flawed from the start,” said Nevada Democratic Rep. Dina Titus. “Boeing cut corners and failed to disclose critical information to regulators throughout the process. The FAA response to this tragedy was clearly inadequate as well. While we can never bring back the 346 lives lost, we must significantly reform aircraft regulations to improve the safety of the traveling public.”

The report, from the House Transportation Committee, led by Democrats, blames a faulty control system, which overrode pilot commands in certain situations.

“I am still reviewing our committee’s extensive and final report, which builds on hours and hours of testimony and documentation presented to our committee, plus dozens of interviews with our investigative staff. But what is clear already is that Boeing displayed a lack of leadership and prioritized profits over public safety,” said Indiana Democratic Rep. Andre Carson. “Its cost cutting measures and lack of transparency, among many other shortcomings, resulted in tragedy that was completely avoidable. Though our findings won’t bring back the 346 innocent people we lost, I hope that they provide a degree of closure to their loved ones who are still grieving, and they are reassured that our committee is committed to making all the changes necessary to prevent future loss of life.”

The report also says the FAA delegated too much safety certification to Boeing itself eroding FAA oversight.

In a statement, the FAA said it looks forward to working with Congress to “implement improvements identified in its report.”

The FAA is committed to continually advancing aviation safety and looks forward to working with the Committee to implement improvements identified in its report. We are already undertaking important initiatives based on what we have learned from our own internal reviews as well as independent reviews of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents. These initiatives are focused on advancing overall aviation safety by improving our organization, processes, and culture.  Last month, the FAA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for an airworthiness directive (AD) that will mandate a number of design changes to the Boeing 737 MAX before it returns to passenger service. The FAA continues to follow a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline, for returning the aircraft to service.

Federal Aviation Administration statement

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says she ordered a review of the certification process when the accidents happened and says safety remains her top priority.

“We are surprised this report came only from the Democrats on the hill and not from the Republicans,” Chao said. “But nevertheless we view every report with seriousness.”

The report also describes a “culture of concealment” at Boeing, and alleges the company withheld crucial information from the FAA and its customers.

Boeing cooperated fully and extensively with the Committee’s inquiry since it began in early 2019. We have been hard at work strengthening our safety culture and rebuilding trust with our customers, regulators, and the flying public. The passengers and crew on board Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, as well as their loved ones, continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

Multiple committees, experts, and governmental authorities have examined issues related to the MAX, and we have incorporated many of their recommendations, as well as the results of our own internal reviews, into the 737 MAX and the overall airplane design process. The revised design of the MAX has received intensive internal and regulatory review, including more than 375,000 engineering and test hours and 1,300 test flights. Once the FAA and other regulators have determined the MAX can safely return to service, it will be one of the most thoroughly scrutinized aircraft in history, and we have full confidence in its safety. We have also taken steps to bolster safety across our company, consulting outside experts and learning from best practices in other industries. We have set up a new safety organization to enhance and standardize safety practices, restructured our engineering organization to give engineers a stronger voice and a more direct line to share concerns with top management, created a permanent Aerospace Safety Committee of our Board of Directors as well as expanded the role of the Safety Promotion Center.

We have learned many hard lessons as a company from the accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, and from the mistakes we have made.  As this report recognizes, we have made fundamental changes to our company as a result, and continue to look for ways to improve. Change is always hard and requires daily commitment, but we as a company are dedicated to doing the work.

Boeing statement

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