FAA chief faces questioning over Boeing 737 Max airliner

The 737 Max consists of four versions all of which have the MCAS system. The 737 Max 8 was involved both crashes.                  Boeing

MS: "I don't know that understanding this system would've changed the outcome on this".

The hearing before the House panel is expected to cover the FAA's review of a flight-control system on the Max that was not present on earlier versions of the 737.

Boeing is now updating the automated flight-control system, and Mr Elwell said he expected the company to complete its work "in the next week or so", after which the FAA will analyse the software changes and conduct test flights.

"Once we are convinced absolutely of the safety of return to service, we will do it", said Daniel Elwell, the FAA's acting administrator. At the same time of this meeting, a Senate committee was holding a confirmation hearing for President Trump's pick to head the FAA permanently.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., told Elwell that the public believes "you were in bed with those you were supposed to be regulating, and that's why it took so long" to ground the planes.

Representative Rick Larsen, a Washington Democrat who chaired the hearing, said he would press for answers to ensure safety.

Larsen added a note of economic urgency to the grounding of the Max, Boeing's best-selling plane and one that is built in his home state of Washington. The crashes killed 346 people. "And we need the knowledge", one pilot said.

News reports on the eve of the hearing chronicled a 27 November meeting, which came after the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, at which American Airlines pilots pressed Boeing for safety changes that could have temporarily grounded the plane.

"Boeing has yet to provide a single document", he said.

Elwell defended FAA's practice of designating employees of Boeing and other aerospace manufacturers to do some inspection work, saying it takes advantage of industry expertise, and "when done right, is indispensable to the health and safety of our system".

The FAA is still the "gold standard", Graves said.

In both crashes, the MCAS pointed the plane sharply downward based on a faulty sensor reading, hindering pilot control after takeoff, according to preliminary crash investigations.

The pilots indicated they weren't aware of the 737 Max's computerized stability program - the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. In both cases, the MCAS system was repeatedly trying to push the plane into a dive.

Asked for comment on DeFazio's statement regarding records, Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said, "Boeing continues to support the ongoing accident investigations and is committed to working closely with Members of Congress, their staff and relevant officials". Mr. Elwell testified that he was "not" happy that Boeing failed to report the disagree light problem to the FAA, but he seems unwilling to take any action against Boeing. He promised a software update in six weeks. Only after those things are established will the FAA allow the 737 MAX to fly again.

The system activated in the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March and also during a separate Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October.

Elwell said he expects Boeing to make its formal submission for a MCAS software update in the next week or so.

"At this point, to say that we're willing to go back to something before we've gone through those investigations, I'm not prepared to say that", he said.

A Boeing executive at the meeting defended the plane.

"We're not going to do it until it's safe", Elwell said.

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