© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft parked in Boeing Field in Seattle
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – According to a lengthy Congressional report released on Friday, officials “inappropriately exercised” 737 MAX 346 people during recertification efforts after two fatal crashes.
The report by the Republican Senate Commerce Committee officials said that testing a critical safety system called MCAS, which has been linked to both fatal accidents, this year is against proper protocol.
The committee concluded that Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing (NYSE 🙂 officials “had set a predetermined outcome to confirm a long-held assumption of the human factor in relation to the pilot’s response time … It appears in this case FAA and Boeing tried to cover up important information that may have contributed to the tragedy of the 737 MAX. “
The report, which quoted a whistleblower allegedly accusing Boeing officials, encouraged test pilots to “remember to properly sit on that pickle switch” prior to the exercise, which resulted in a pilot responding in about four seconds , while another pilot responded in about 16 seconds in a separate test.
The report was confirmed during an FAA employee interview, the committee added.
Numerous reports have indicated that when developing the 737 MAX, Boeing did not properly consider how pilots respond to cockpit emergencies.
Boeing said Friday it was “taking the committee’s findings seriously and will continue to examine the report in full”.
Senate Trade Committee chairman Roger Wicker said the report “contains a number of significant examples of failure to oversee flight safety and failed leadership in the FAA.”
The committee also said, “Several independent whistleblowers have reached out to the committee to allege that FAA senior management was complicit in determining the level of certification for 737 MAX training courses prior to each assessment.”
Boeing refused to request simulator training for pilots prior to operating the 737 MAX, but reversed course in January.
The report also found that Southwest Airlines (NYSE 🙂 was able to operate more than 150,000 flights carrying 17.2 million passengers on jets without confirming that the required maintenance was completed.
The Senate report said the south-west flights “put millions of passengers at potential risk”. Southwest did not comment immediately.
Boeing is still facing an ongoing criminal investigation into the MAX. The committee said its review was “limited due to the ongoing criminal investigation.”
Last month, the FAA cleared the 737 MAX’s return to service and flights in Brazil resumed. The first commercial flight US 737 MAX with paying passengers is scheduled for December 29th.
Last month, the Senate committee unanimously passed a bill to reform the FAA’s certification of new aircraft and provide new protections for whistleblowers, among other things, while the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a similar bill.
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