Boeing 737 Max

US panel to look into certification of new aircraft

Boeing 737 Max airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington on March 21, 2019.
Boeing 737 Max airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington on March 21, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • The US Transportation Department is creating a special commission to review how newly designed planes are certified, spurred by criticism after two deadly crashes of Boeing's 737 Max.

The commission will evaluate how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversees the process of reviewing and approving new plane models, including the government's growing use of aircraft manufacturers' employees to sign off on designs.

The FAA joined other global regulators in grounding the 737 Max family of jets on March 13, after evidence surfaced linking the two fatal incidents.

"Safety is the No. 1 priority of the department, and this review by leading outside experts will help determine if improvements can be made to the FAA aircraft certification process," Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.

The review adds to the increased scrutiny of the 737 Max as Boeing works with airlines and regulators on a software update for the workhorse jetliner.

A criminal investigation led by the Justice Department is also underway, as is an audit by the Transportation Department's inspector-general of the 737 Max's approval. The Senate is holding a hearing today to review aviation safety.

Two 737 Max 8 jets have crashed in the last five months, killing a total of 346 people. On Oct 29, in Indonesia, a safety system on a Lion Air plane was continually pushing the aircraft to dive as a result of a malfunction. An Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed in Ethiopia on March 10 behaved similarly. A preliminary report on the Ethiopian Airlines crash will very likely be released this week, the country's Transport Ministry said yesterday.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

SEE OPINION: Things will go wrong when planemaker plays regulator

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2019, with the headline 'US panel to look into certification of new aircraft'. Print Edition | Subscribe