The House Transportation Committee will hold hearings this week on, what else, the Boeing 737 Max debacle, and there remains one big question that we’ve been asking all along that Committee chair Peter DeFazio has finally been asked, though he hasn’t answered yet.
As you know, the hearing is seeking to find out details about how the certification of the Max went off the rails, resulting in a stability augmentation design little understood by anyone at Boeing, the FAA or the airlines that were flying the plane. That system, called MCAS, has been blamed for two crashes, the last one in March of this year, that claimed nearly 350 lives.
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The question is, according to a report in Politico’s Morning Transportation Newsletter, is this: Considering the timing of the accidents and the confirmation of FAA head Steve Dickson—he got the Senate nod five months after the second Max crash—why is it that those in control at the FAA at the time of the certification of the Max haven’t been called to testify? According to the Politico piece, DeFazio agreed that it was a good question but didn’t announce any plans to call former FAA personnel to testify, at least not yet.
Another big story that few mainstream outlets have been reporting on is that the FAA has laid down the law on the Boeing recertification effort for the 737 Max, this after Boeing a couple of weeks ago made statements regarding the approvals to the Max fixes that sounded too definitive for the FAA’s liking. The agency in turn announced last week that it would be issuing all approvals on the recertification effort, meaning Boeing’s plans for a March rollout of the new Max design, reportedly with a dumbed-down version of MCAS, is very much in question.