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World FAA predicted Boeing 737 Max, facing more delays, would crash 15 times over its lifetime

19:50  12 december  2019
19:50  12 december  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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As the process of recertifying the Boeing 737 Max is sure to stretch into 2020, a House committee released documents Wednesday showing the Federal Aviation Administration predicted the troubled jet had the potential of being involved in 15 crashes over its service life if changes weren't made.

In revealing the document, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, noted that the report came after the first crash of the 737 Max last year. Despite the finding, the plane model was allowed to keep flying. It was grounded only after a second crash in March. Together, the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents killed 346 passengers and crew.

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Against that backdrop, FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson indicated that his agency is in no hurry to get the 737 Max flying again. He told CNBC that the grounded 737 Max won't be cleared to fly again until next year, which would dash Boeing's hopes to get the troubled jetliner recertified to fly in the USA this month.

The FAA analysis, conducted in December 2018 about a month after the first crash, showed that over the expected lifetime of the Boeing 737 Max, about 45 years, it would be likely to be involved in 15.4 fatal accidents involving fatalities if no improvements in light of the Lion Air crash were made. The analysis is based on an expected fleet of 4,800 aircraft.

Pictures: Boeing 737 Max in pictures

"I am not aware of any other certified transport aircraft that has such an analysis," DeFazio said. He said similar analyses on other aircraft have predicted 10 or fewer fatal accidents. He questioned "why the aircraft wasn't grounded once this analysis was done as opposed to allowing the plane to fly while Boeing worked on a fix."

a group of blue and white plane sitting on top of a runway: Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked on the tarmac after being grounded, at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California.© MARK RALSTON, AFP via Getty Images Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked on the tarmac after being grounded, at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California. Dickson later said during the hearing that the report presented an "unacceptable level of risk," but that the FAA started taking actions, including an emergency order making pilots aware of the plane's unique issue.

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The disclosure that the FAA predicted the crashes with a level of unacceptable risk stunned one the parents of crash victims who attended the hearing. Michael Stumo, whose daughter Samya died when the Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed, said the FAA and Boeing didn't do enough as a result.

The 737 Max was "the most unsafe plane in the history of aviation and they did nothing," he said. "That's the failure to act that killed my daughter."

As for when the plane will return to service, Dickson sidestepped naming a target date before his committee appearance.

"This process is not guided by a calendar or schedule," Dickson said.

The 737 Max won't be in service again until the FAA determines a proposed software fix and pilot retraining program are adequate, he said. The flight system changes will have to be certified in a test flight. A Joint Operations Evaluation Board, which includes members from Canada, Europe and Brazil, needs to sign off on revised training.

Documents must be reviewed by the FAA and a technical advisory board of members from several agencies. The FAA will need to issue an airworthiness notification and publish a directive listing all the changes.

  FAA predicted Boeing 737 Max, facing more delays, would crash 15 times over its lifetime © Getty The FAA is evaluating outside reports on the 737 Max, awaiting an independent committee's review of the proposed changes and expecting a report from a special committee under Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

As one of the final steps, Dickson, a former Air Force and commercial airline pilot, vowed to fly the 737 Max himself.

He insists on being "satisfied that I would put my own family on it without a second thought," he wrote in his statement.

The crashes and subsequent grounding of the jetliner plunged Boeing into crisis. It has tried to come up with revisions, most of them focusing on a software fix. The change would center on modifying the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.

The MCAS was blamed for pushing the plane's nose down repeatedly as pilots fought to keep it in the air on both the Lion Air and Ethiopian flights.

Dickson, like Boeing, said there is no strict timetable when it comes to the 737 Max.

Unlike during the 737 Max's development, none of the inspection tasks is delegated to Boeing. The FAA remains open-minded on improvements.

"We will implement any changes that would improve our certification activities and increase safety," Dickson wrote.

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