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US congress report on B737-MAX slams Boeing, FAA

US congress report on B737-MAX slams Boeing, FAA

A US congress report on the two fatal accidents of Boeing B737-MAX jetliners blamed the manufacturer and the regulator, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  

The inquiry on the B737-MAX plane crash in Indonesia and Ethiopia by the US congress has been going for a year and half. A total of 346 people perished in the accidents that led to the grounding of Boeing’s new plane globally.  

The report released by the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee this week indicated five broad problems with the plane's design, construction and certification. According to the report, Boeing’s race to compete with the European arch-rival Airbus and its new A320neo jetliner led the company to make production goals and cost-cutting a higher priority than safety. The report claims that Boeing made deadly assumptions about the software known as MCAS, which was blamed for sending the planes into nose dives. The report asserts that Boeing withheld critical information from the FAA, the regulatory organ of the US aviation industry. The report bluntly blames the FAA’s practice of delegating oversight authority to Boeing. It also accused the agency of siding with Boeing and dismissing its own experts.   

“The two crashes were the horrific culmination of engineering flaws, mismanagement and a severe lack of federal oversight,” the report said.

The report recommended that the safety issues must be addressed by both Boeing and the FAA in order to correct poor certification practices that have emerged, reassess key assumptions that affect safety and enhance transparency to enable more effective oversight.

Ethiopian Airlines didn’t comment on the US Congress report. Following the ET302 tragic plane crash in March 2019 the management has been defending its cockpit crew saying they followed every flight safety procedure to control the aircraft which performed un-commanded nose dive movements few minutes after takeoff from the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport enroute to Nairobi, Kenya.

Boeing concedes to the congressional report. America’s flagship company said it has learned hard lessons in the wake of the crashes as it has struggled to come up with fixes to the jet that will satisfy regulators.  “We have learned many hard lessons as a company from the accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, and from the mistakes we have made.  As this report recognizes, we have made fundamental changes to our company as a result, and continue to look for ways to improve. Change is always hard and requires daily commitment, but we as a company are dedicated to doing the work,” Boeing said in a statement issued this week.   

 “The passengers and crew on board Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, as well as their loved ones, continue to be in our thoughts and prayers,” the company said.   

An interim accident investigation report by Ethiopia’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) stated that Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 experienced repeated nose-down commands from the flight control system. The interim report said the two pilots followed the prescribed checklist in response to flight control problems. However, they were unable to regain control of the aircraft in response to aircraft nose-down commands.

AAIB is expected to release the final accident investigation report soon.

Africa’s largest airline, Ethiopian Airlines, has a commendable safety record audited by the FAA and the European Aviation safety Agency (EASA). The national carrier operates a young and modern fleet of 120 aircraft including Boeing B787, B777 and Airbus A350. It also runs Africa’s biggest aviation academy that trains pilots, aircraft maintenance technicians, flight attendants and marketing professionals.