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World Exclusive: Boeing kept FAA in the dark on key 737 MAX design changes - U.S. IG report

03:40  01 july  2020
03:40  01 july  2020 Source:   reuters.com

Report: Boeing fell short in disclosing key changes to Max

  Report: Boeing fell short in disclosing key changes to Max A government report says Boeing did not give regulators documents about changes it made in a key system blamed in two deadly crashes of its 737 Max jet, and that officials responsible for approving the plane did not know how powerfully the system could push the plane's nose down. Government personnel involved in flight tests knew about changes Boeing made to the flight-control system, but engineers responsible for certifying the plane did not, according to the report, which is expected to be released Wednesday.

Boeing Co failed to submit certification documents to the U . S . Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA ) detailing changes to a key flight control system faulted The 52-page report by the U . S . Department of Transportation' s Office of Inspector General, dated June 29 and set to be made public Wednesday

Boeing Co failed to submit certification documents to the U . S . Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA ) detailing changes to a key flight control system faulted The 52-page report by the U . S . Department of Transportation’ s Office of Inspector General, dated June 29 and set to be made public Wednesday

a fighter jet sitting on top of a runway: FILE PHOTO: Boeing 737 Max aircraft are parked in a parking lot at Boeing Field in this aerial photo over Seattle © Reuters/Lindsey Wasson FILE PHOTO: Boeing 737 Max aircraft are parked in a parking lot at Boeing Field in this aerial photo over Seattle

By David Shepardson, Eric M. Johnson and Tracy Rucinski

WASHINGTON/SEATTLE/CHICAGO (Reuters) - Boeing Co failed to submit certification documents to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) detailing changes to a key flight control system faulted in two fatal crashes, a long-awaited government report seen by Reuters has found.

The flight control system, known as MCAS, was "not an area of emphasis" because Boeing presented it to the FAA as a modification of the jet's existing speed trim system, with limited range and use, according to the report.

United States: first certification flight of the Boeing 737 MAX, nailed to the ground in 14 months

 United States: first certification flight of the Boeing 737 MAX, nailed to the ground in 14 months © REUTERS / Lindsey Wasson Boeing 737 MAX parked in a parking lot of the Boeing Field in this aerial photo above Seattle, in the Washington State, June 11, 2020. The Boeing 737 MAX took off on Monday June 29 from Boeing Field at 4:55 pm GMT for a first series of tests, announced the American Aviation Regulatory Authority (FAA). A crucial step for the survival of the American aircraft giant's flagship plane, nailed to the ground for 14 months.

FILE PHOTO: A Boeing 737 MAX airplane lands after a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle. The 52-page report by the U . S . Department of Transportation' s Office of Inspector General, dated June The IG ' s office will issue recommendations to the FAA later this year, the Transportation Department said

A Boeing 737 Max 8 being built at the company’ s factory in Renton, Wash.Credit Gary He/EPA, via Shutterstock. Congressional investigators are combing through tens of thousands of internal Boeing documents, looking for potential flaws in the Max ’ s development and certification.

The 52-page report by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General (IG), dated June 29 and set to be made public Wednesday, laid bare mistakes made by both the planemaker and FAA in the development and certification of Boeing's top-selling aircraft.

The FAA and the IG did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Boeing spokesman said the company had taken steps to enhance safety and was committed to transparency. "When the MAX returns to service, it will be one of the most thoroughly scrutinized aircraft in history, and we have full confidence in its safety," he said.

The IG's report is the latest of reports faulting the plane's approval, while the Justice Department has an ongoing criminal investigation.

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A Boeing 737 Max parked at the company’ s facilities in Washington. The planes remain grounded after two deadly crashes.Credit Lindsey Wasson for The New York Times.

Remember the Boeing 737 MAX - the jet that’ s been grounded for over a year after design flaws led to two fatal crashes? A few minutes before 10am Monday (local time), a Boeing 737 Max took off from Boeing Field in the US with a Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA ) pilot at the

The 737 MAX has been grounded from commercial flight worldwide since March 2019 after two crashes killed 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia over a five-month span.

Boeing's so-called MCAS stall-prevention system has been faulted in both crashes, when the system repeatedly and forcefully pushed down the jet's nose as pilots struggled to intervene. Crash investigators have pinpointed a cocktail of other factors.

The inspector general report details activities from the early phase of the certification process in January 2012 through the second crash and details allegations of "undue pressure" from Boeing management on workers handling safety certification. The IG's office will issue recommendations to the FAA later this year, the Transportation Department said in comments about the draft report submitted on June 8.

REGULATORS IN THE DARK

Boeing kept the FAA in the dark on significant changes to MCAS, the report said. Then, the FAA first conducted its first-ever detailed review of the system in January 2019, three months after the first crash in Indonesia. The review resulted in documentation that was never finalized, the report said.

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[ Boeing ’ s 737 Max : 1960 s design , 1990 s power and paper manuals.] While it is unclear which officials were involved in the review of the anti-stall system, they Boeing introduced the 737 Max as a reliable fuel- and cost-efficient solution to air travel in the 21st century. After two fatal Max crashes, all

The FAA confirmed to U . S . lawmakers on Sunday that an agency board had completed a review of Boeing ' s safety system assessment for the 737 Flights with FAA test pilots could begin as early as tomorrow, evaluating Boeing ’ s proposed changes to the automated flight control system on the 737

The report noted that after the Indonesia crash the FAA completed a risk analysis that found that the uncorrected risk to the 737 MAX was 2.68 fatalities per 1 million flight hours, which exceeded the FAA's risk guidelines of 1 fatality per 10 million flight hours.

A December 2018 FAA analysis determined a risk of about 15 accidents occurring over the life of the entire 737 MAX fleet if the software fix was not implemented.

After the crashes, Boeing proposed and FAA accepted a redesign of MCAS software that would include additional safeguards against unintended MCAS activation.

Boeing agreed to develop the software update by April 12 and operators would have until June 18, 2019, to install the software. As Boeing worked on proposed software upgrade for MCAS, a second plane crashed in March 2019 in Ethiopia.

'TOO DEFERENTIAL TO BOEING"

The FAA is currently evaluating the MCAS upgrades during a series of certification test flights this week that could pave the way for the jet's return domestically by year end.

"While we have not found any evidence of an inappropriately close relationship between FAA and Boeing to date, some FAA personnel expressed concern that FAA executives are too deferential to Boeing," the report said.

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Unpainted Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are seen parked at Renton Municipal Airport in Renton. The messages, first reported by Reuters, sent Boeing shares tumbling, prompted a demand by U . S Boeing said on Friday that Muilenburg had called FAA Administrator Steve Dickson to respond to the

Earlier: Boeing Max Poised for Key Test as Plans Made to Train Pilots. In a response included in the report , the FAA acknowledged that its certification of The report revolves around the approvals for the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. It was added to the plane to nudge the nose

In response to the report, the Transportation Department said the FAA's certification of the 737 MAX was "hampered by a lack of effective communication" between the agency and U.S. planemaker.

Crucially, that included the "incomplete understanding of the scope and potential safety impacts" of the changes Boeing made to the jet's flight control system to give it more power and authority, the agency said.

"Key FAA certification engineers and personnel responsible for approving the level of airline pilot training were unaware of the revision to (MCAS)," the report said.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington, Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Additional reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney; Editing by Chris Reese and Tom Brown)


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