FAA failed to properly review 737 Max system


Boeing did not fully explain to federal regulators an automated flight system featured in its new 737 Max, and those regulators didn't have the capability to effectively analyze much of what Boeing did share about the plane. The plane has been grounded since March, and Boeing is still working on updates to software and computers.

In both incidents, investigators focused on the role played by a software system called MCAS (Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System), which was created to make the aircraft easier to fly.

The FAA, which oversees plane safety in the USA, commissioned the review in April after Boeing 737 Max disasters in Ethiopia and Indonesia, which killed 346 people.

In the wake of the two accidents involving the 737 Max, the FAA has come in for some strong criticism.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a prepared statement that the agency would review all recommendations from the panel and take appropriate action.

Over the years it has delegated more and more safety certification work to Boeing.

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But the problem remains: if certification depends on Boeing marking its own homework, how can the FAA be sure it's doing the job properly?

In April, the FAA commissioned the Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) to look into how the agency approved the jet's flight control system - including the so-called MCAS anti-stall system, which played a role in the crashes of both the Ethiopian Airlines flight in March this year and in the Lion Air flight in October last year.

"With adequate FAA engagement and oversight, the extent of delegation does not in itself compromise safety", states the report, which is scheduled to be released officially later today (Oct. 11). European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) officials told senior US counterparts that one element of the fixes, having two flight control computers operate simultaneously, goes against decades of prior design and has not been adequately tested, the news agency wrote.

Separately, the source said that RAM is not concerned about its fleet of 737 NG planes after inspections that have taken place elsewhere in the world, saying the checks routinely take place on older jets or after a set number of flights.

Boeing did not respond to criticism in the report but said it is "committed to working with the FAA in reviewing the recommendations and helping to continuously improve the process and approach used to validate and certify airplanes".