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Congressional inquiry faults Boeing, FAA failures for deadly 737 Max plane crashes

A Boeing 737 Max heads to a landing past grounded Max jets at Seattle's Boeing Field, following a test flight in June.

A sweeping congressional inquiry into the development and certification of Boeing's troubled 737 Max airplane finds damning evidence of failures at both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration that "played instrumental and causative roles" in two fatal crashes of the plane, which killed a total of 346 people.

The House Transportation Committee released an investigative report produced by Democratic staff this morning. It documents what it says is "a disturbing pattern of technical miscalculations and troubling management misjudgments" by Boeing, combined with "numerous oversight lapses and accountability gaps by the FAA."

Lion Air flight 610 crashed in October 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed in March 2019, both Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

"The Max crashes were not the result of a singular failure, technical mistake, or mismanaged event," the committee report says. Instead, "they were the horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing's engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing's management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA."

The report is the latest of many investigations into the 737 Max crashes and includes little new information. But it appears to be the most comprehensive in analyzing both Boeing's and the FAA's roles in developing and certifying an ultimately flawed commercial passenger jet.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., says one of the most startling revelations uncovered by the investigation is that "both FAA and Boeing came to the conclusion that the certification of the Max was compliant" with FAA regulations. He calls that "mind-boggling."

"The problem is it was compliant and not safe. And people died," DeFazio said, adding that it's "clear evidence that the current regulatory system is fundamentally flawed and needs to be repaired."

"This is a tragedy that never should have happened," DeFazio added. "It could have been prevented and we're going to take steps in our legislation to see that it never happens again as we reform the system."

DeFazio's committee is drafting legislation that would overhaul the aircraft certification process and strengthen the FAA's oversight of airplane manufacturers. The Senate Commerce Committee is expected to take up similar, but somewhat weaker legislation.

Source: NPR

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