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FAA Chief Accepts Mistakes on Boeing 737 Max Jets, Rejects Charge of Obstructing Probe

Representational image (Image: Reuters)

Representational image (Image: Reuters)

Boeing’s 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019 following crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people, triggering multiple investigations on the jets' certifications.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: June 20, 2020, 5:09 PM IST
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The head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Steve Dickson, acknowledged on Wednesday that Boeing Co and the U.S. air safety agency both made mistakes on the 737 MAX jet, but rejected senators’ accusations the FAA was “stonewalling” probes after two fatal crashes.

Boeing’s 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019 following crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people, triggering multiple investigations into how the plane was certified as safe.

In a particularly tense exchange at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on aircraft certification, Senator Ted Cruz accused Dickson of speaking in the passive voice as a way of “avoiding responsibility” after Dickson told him, “Mistakes were made.”

“So unknown somebodies made unspecified mistakes for which there were no repercussions,” Cruz said. “What mistakes were made and who made them?”

After a pause, Dickson said, “The manufacturer made mistakes and the FAA made mistakes in its oversight.” Dickson then referred to Boeing’s development of a flight control system that repeatedly pushed down the jet’s nose in both crashes as pilots battled to gain control. “The full implications of the flight control system were not understood as design changes were made,” he said.

One senator at the hearing said the agency was like “a dog watching TV” when it came to policing Boeing’s work, and another said the agency was “stonewalling” the committee’s investigation into the 737 MAX’s development.

Boeing’s 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019 following crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people, triggering multiple investigations into how the plane was certified as safe.

In a particularly tense exchange at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on aircraft certification, Senator Ted Cruz accused Dickson of speaking in the passive voice as a way of “avoiding responsibility” after Dickson told him, “Mistakes were made.”

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“So unknown somebodies made unspecified mistakes for which there were no repercussions,” Cruz said. “What mistakes were made and who made them?”

After a pause, Dickson said, “The manufacturer made mistakes and the FAA made mistakes in its oversight.” Dickson then referred to Boeing’s development of a flight control system that repeatedly pushed down the jet’s nose in both crashes as pilots battled to gain control. “The full implications of the flight control system were not understood as design changes were made,” he said.

One senator at the hearing said the agency was like “a dog watching TV” when it came to policing Boeing’s work, and another said the agency was “stonewalling” the committee’s investigation into the 737 MAX’s development.

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