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Technology 'FAA culture needs to change,' lawmaker asserts ahead of 737 Max hearing

06:20  11 december  2019
06:20  11 december  2019 Source:   abcnews.go.com

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Boeing 737 MAX airplanes have been grounded following two fatal crashes in which 346 passengers and crew were killed in October 2018 and March 2019. Federal officials say the FAA is not expected to authorize the plane to fly until January at the earliest, citing a number of steps yet to be completed.

Federal officials say the FAA is not expected to authorize the plane to fly until January at the earliest, citing a number of steps yet to be completed. Johndroe said "the suggestion by Mr. Pierson of a link between his concerns and the recent MAX accidents is completely unfounded."

Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Stephen Dickson is expected to face tough questions from lawmakers on Wednesday during his first testimony on the Boeing 737 Max since taking over the agency on Aug. 12.

Peter DeFazio wearing glasses and a suit and tie: House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., sat down with with ABC News' Senior Transportation Correspondent David Kerley ahead of the 737 Max hearing.© ABC News House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., sat down with with ABC News' Senior Transportation Correspondent David Kerley ahead of the 737 Max hearing.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing intends to examine the FAA's role in the certification of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft. It will mark the fifth hearing the committee has held since it launched its investigation into the Boeing plane following two fatal crashes that killed a total of 346 people. The FAA grounded the 737 Max jets on March 13.

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Federal officials say the FAA is not expected to authorize the plane to fly until January at the earliest, citing a number of steps yet to be completed. Boeing senior leadership, Johndroe added, "was aware of production challenges with the 737 line in 2018, and devoted significant attention and resources to

MORE: FAA chief to test updated 737 MAX software as planes remain grounded

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., believes that the committee's investigation has already proven that there is something broken in the aircraft certification process.

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Key Points The Federal Aviation Administration is under fire for Boeing's role in certifying the 737 Max . The FAA grounded the Max in mid-March after two fatal crashes. Lawmakers on Wednesday criticized the Federal Aviation Administration 's approval of the

The hearing , the highest-profile congressional scrutiny of commercial aviation safety in years, heaps pressure on a newly rejiggered Boeing senior management team fighting to repair trust with airline customers and passengers shaken by an eight-month safety ban on its 737 MAX following the

"I think there's been too much deference to the manufacturer in this case by the FAA, and that's broken," DeFazio said in an interview Tuesday with ABC News' Senior Transportation Correspondent David Kerley. "That's not what the law says. There's not supposed to be deference."

Under the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program mandated by Congress, some of the aircraft certification process is delegated to manufacturers like Boeing. Critics of the ODA program say its a conflict of interest that Boeing was able to influence the certification of the 737 Max. However, some defend the program and say that there is sufficient FAA oversight from start to finish during the aircraft certification process.

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While designing its newest jet, Boeing decided to make two significant changes to an automated system now suspected of playing a role in two deadly crashes of the plane. Despite the added risks, the Federal Aviation Administration did not conduct another safety review of the anti-stall system

Once the FAA approves the 737 Max to fly again, Boeing plans to increase production from the current rate of Boeing plans to deploy field teams around the world ahead of the plane's return to service to help Documents obtained by CBS News outline software changes to the MCAS system that were a

In 2003, DeFazio voted against the initial bill that mandated the ODA program.

a screen shot of a man in a suit and tie: FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson delivers a speech on unleashing the power of commercial space transportation, during the second annual Space Summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Dec. 3, 2019, in Washington, DC.© Mark Wilson/Getty Images FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson delivers a speech on unleashing the power of commercial space transportation, during the second annual Space Summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Dec. 3, 2019, in Washington, DC.

"We can certainly mandate changes in the approval process and the oversight process by the FAA," DeFazio said. "We're already thinking of options of changes we might make."

The committee chairman hopes to hear firsthand from Dickson and other FAA officials on Wednesday about how the agency plans to change its culture.

MORE: New FAA administrator says there is no timeline for the 737 MAX's return to service

"I'm hoping the FAA Administrator has some recommendations of his own," he said.

DeFazio has also raised the alarm about the safety culture inside Boeing -- specifically production pressures that might indicate the company put profit over safety.

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“We continue to build 737 MAX airplanes, while assessing how the situation, including To come through this trauma successfully, Boeing needs to put this new 737 safety problem firmly behind it In contrast, Larsen said that while other countries were ahead of the FAA in banning the MAX , they are

The MAX , the newest model 737 jet, has been grounded since mid-March following the fatal crash of an His testimony could feed the narrative that Boeing put profit ahead of safety, something Boeing management also needs to answer for MAX design decisions. Some actions have already been taken.

Edward Pierson, a Boeing retiree, is expected to testify Wednesday on safety concerns he claims were ignored regarding the 737 Max production line.

MORE: When asked if he’ll resign in light of 737 MAX crashes, Boeing CEO says 'that’s not where my focus is'

"I fear that profit took precedence and put pressure on the whole organization all the way down," DeFazio told ABC News back in October.

Boeing believes its changes to the 737 Max will make it one of the safest airplanes ever to fly.

a large airplane at an airport: Aerial photo showing Boeing 737 Max airplanes parked at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, Oct. 20, 2019.© Gary He/Reuters Aerial photo showing Boeing 737 Max airplanes parked at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, Oct. 20, 2019.

In both crashes, it appears the angle-of-attack sensor was sending incorrect data, misfiring the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, which pushed the plane's nose down repeatedly even as pilots fought to gain altitude. One of the software fixes Boeing said has been completed is a change to rely on two sensors, not just one, to activate the MCAS. A second software fix is related to the overall flight-control software system.

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The 737 Max was grounded in March after an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board. He faced a number of questions about whether pilots were given proper training on changes to the plane’s navigation and stabilization systems.

Are Max 737 s closer to flying? FAA 'looks forward' to international panel's findings as grounding The FAA says it "looks forward" to an international panel's findings on the certification and safety of But federal and global aviation authorities, not Boeing, must approve software changes sought to make

Ultimately, the decision for the 737 Max to fly again lies in the hands of the FAA.

FAA Administrator Dickson has repeatedly said that the agency's "return-to-service decision for the Max will be based solely on (its) assessment of the sufficiency of Boeing's proposed software updates and pilot training that addresses the known issues for grounding the aircraft."

MORE: United joins American and Southwest in extending 737 Max cancellations into March

A former commercial pilot himself, Dickson added, "I am not going to sign off on this aircraft until I fly it myself and am satisfied that I would put my own family on it without a second thought."

As for DeFazio? He hasn't made up his mind on whether or not he will fly on a Max once it's re-certified.

"(The FAA) is going to have "a very in-depth technical review of the MCAS system," DeFazio said. "And after I see and hear all of that, then I'll have a judgment to make."

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