FAA analysis predicted many more Max crashes without a fix
December 12, 2019 by David Koenig, The Associated Press
After the first crash of a Boeing 737 Max last year, safety officials in the US estimated that there could be 15 more fatal crashes of the Max over the next few decades if Boeing didn’t fix a critical automated flight-control system.
Yet the Federal Aviation Administration did not ground the plane until a second deadly crash five months later.
The FAA analysis was disclosed today during a hearing of the House Transportation Committee, which is investigating the FAA’s oversight of Boeing and the Max.
Oregon Democrat DePeter DeFazio, the chairman of the committee, says the FAA rolled the dice on the safety of the travelling public and let the Max continue to fly until Boeing could overhaul its MCAS software.
The FAA estimate covered the lifespan of the Max and assumed the fleet would eventually grow to 4,800 planes.
Fewer than 400 were flying before they were grounded in March, after the second crash.
The head of the FAA said his agency controls the process of approving the return to service of the troubled plane and won’t delegate any of that authority to Boeing.
A retired Boeing production manager told the lawmakers about “alarming” conditions at Boeing’s 737 factory in Renton, Washington, where two Max planes that crashed were built.
The manager, Edward Pierson, said the assembly line fell far behind schedule by mid-2018 because of cascading problems that began with late delivery of key parts.
Yet Boeing went ahead with its plan to boost production from 47 to 52 planes a month.