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FAA in the hot seat on Boeing at House hearing

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 15, 2019 - Duration: 02:39s

FAA in the hot seat on Boeing at House hearing

At a congressional hearing, the chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee told the FAA it must “get it right” in deciding when to allow the Boeing 737 MAX to fly again.

Havovi Cooper reports.

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FAA in the hot seat on Boeing at House hearing

SOUNDBITE: Rep.

Rick Larsen (D-WA) saying: "What explanation does the FAA have for, I guess, falling down on the job." The acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration, grilled by lawmakers Wednesday, on the agency's role in allowing Boeing's now-grounded 737 Max airplanes to fly.

At the core of the heated hearing ...questions on how the FAA could have approved a flawed anti-stall system known as MCAS-which is suspected to have played a role in two recent deadly air crashes.

SOUNDBITE: Rep.

Paul Mitchell (R-MI) saying: "What were the steps the FAA took in reviewing the MCAS system and the accompanying training?

Because I've asked it now three times.

And I'll be blunt with you sir with all due respect I haven't gotten a direct answer and the committee deserves it." SOUNDBITE: Dan Elwell, Acting Chief of Federal Aviation Administration or FAA saying: "We will get that answer for you sir." Lawmakers also brought up media reports that pilots weren't aware of how the crucial software worked.

SOUNDBITE: Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) saying: "How could it be that we didn't tell pilots about MCAS and implore them to be aware of it in the situation?

This was a system put in to allow, to be what was arguably a new airplane to compete with Airbus and we didn't tell the pilots?" Wednesday's hearing comes as the FAA is facing increased under scrutiny over how much autonomy it allowed Boeing for safety oversight.

Lawmakers questioned the FAA's practice of relying on so-called authorized designees or ODA's, essentially company employees who help certify their own aircraft.

SOUNDBITE: Dan Elwell, Acting Chief of Federal Aviation Administration or FAA saying: "The vetting required of the individuals in an ODA program and the ODA program itself is very thorough and robust.

And to your point Mr. Chairman we are not resting on that." In March an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crashed shortly after takeoff --killing all 157 people on board.

And five months earlier, a Lion Air 737 Max flight went down in Indonesia, killing 189 people... prompting airlines and regulatory agencies around the globe to ground their 737-max fleets.

SOUNDBITE: Congressman Steve Cohe (D-TN) saying:" I believe it was every country grounded the Max before we did.

Every country.

" SOUNDBITE: Dan Elwell, Acting Chief of Federal Aviation Administration or FAA saying: The FAA takes a data driven, risk-based systems approach.

We don't deviate from that." SOUNDBITE: Congressman Steve Cohe (D-TN) saying: "So the opposite of data is common sense.

The other countries acted with what looked like common sense." Boeing says it's hoping to obtain FAA approval for a software fix as quickly as late May- sources told Reuters.

U.S. carriers are playing it safe for now--canceling flights through early August.

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