According to the claims of an international panel, adequate review of the new automated safety system in Boeing’s 737 Max had not been done by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Too much oversight to Boeing was delegated by the FAA, the panel said. It added that confusing information about the system had been provided by the planemaker. The system under review is believed to have been behind to fatal crashes within just five months of each other and involved the same model.
The panel was thanked for its “unvarnished” report by the FAA. Boeing said that it was committed to work with the FAA on the recommendations.
The review was commissioned in April this year by the FAA which is the body that oversees plane safety in the US. The review as called for after 346 people died in two deadly crashes involving Boeing 737 Max planes of airlines of Ethiopia and Indonesia.
Since the second accident, all 737 Max planes were grounded across the world even as the FAA was brought under intense scrutiny for its approval of Boeing’s 737 Max planes.
Bodies investigating both the crashes had pinned their focus on the functioning of a software system called MCAS (Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System) that was meant to make flying the aircraft easier. According to initial investigation results, the pilots of both the crashed planes were unable to control the aircraft because of the software – and the failure of sensors.
The FAA has come in for some strong criticism in the wake of the two accidents involving the 737 Max. More and more safety certification work to Boeing has been delegated by the FAA over the years. There were criticisms of the lack of expertise or resources with the FAA to do it itself as well as the policy of the body that has been supported by US politicians.
In recent times, the FAA has also been accused to getting too close to the aerospace giant Boeing and of failure of implementing proper oversight.
A least part of that claim was found to be true in this panel report. .
There was only partial awareness with the FAA about what MCAS was, the report found, and therefore was not able to conduct proper oversight. The report also concluded that “undue pressures” were placed on Boeing staff that were tasked with undertaking the tasks on behalf of the regulator.
He will review every recommendation made in the “unvarnished” review, said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.
The agency’s (FAA’s) “limited involvement” and “inadequate awareness” of the automated MCAS safety system “resulted in an inability of the FAA to provide an independent assessment”, said the report from the panel that was published on Friday.
The report further found that those employees of Boeing who were tasked with the jobs of certification on behalf of the FAA were also subject to “undue pressures… which further erodes the level of assurance in this system of delegation”.
(Adapted from BBC.com)