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House panel approves FAA reform bill after Boeing 737 MAX crashes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. House of Representatives committee on Wednesday unanimously approved bipartisan legislation to reform the Federal Aviation Administration’s aircraft certification process after two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people.

Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said the House would vote on the sweeping reform measure later this year.

The Boeing Co BA.N 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019. Among other reforms, the bill requires that an expert panel evaluate Boeing’s safety culture and recommend improvements.

“Those crashes were the inevitable culmination of stunning acts and omissions within Boeing and the (FAA),” DeFazio said at a hearing.

He said the FAA had failed to properly ensure the safety of the 737 MAX, and called aircraft certification “a broken system that broke the public’s trust.”

Boeing and the FAA have declined to comment on the legislation.

The bill would require American aircraft manufacturers to adopt safety management systems and complete system safety assessments for significant design changes, ensure that risk calculations are based on realistic assumptions of pilot response time, and share risk assessments with the FAA.

A report released last week by House Transportation committee Democrats found that the 737 MAX crashes were the “horrific culmination” of failures by Boeing and the FAA and called for urgent reforms.

The House bill would extend airline whistleblower protections to U.S. manufacturing employees, require FAA approval of new workers who are performing delegated certification tasks for the agency, and impose civil penalties on those who interfere with the performance of FAA-authorized duties.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson is conducting an evaluation flight at the controls of a 737 MAX in Seattle, a key milestone as the U.S. planemaker works to win approval for the aircraft to resume flights.

Reporting by David Shepardson;

Bipartisan House Bill Aims to Fix Boeing 737 Max Safety Lapses

The top Democrat and Republican on the House’s transportation committee unveiled a bill on Monday aimed at addressing some of the problems that contributed to two fatal crashes of Boeing’s 737 Max jet.

Many of the changes in the bill, which is expected to be formally announced on Tuesday, would fix safety lapses that Democrats on the committee identified in a scathing report less than two weeks ago. The report blamed Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration for a series of safety failures.

“For the past 18 months, the Boeing 737 Max has been synonymous with the tragic loss of 346 innocent people, a broken safety culture at Boeing and grossly insufficient oversight by the F.A.A.,” Representative Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, the Democratic chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said in a statement. “And like many people, I was alarmed and outraged by many of the findings that were revealed over the course of our committee’s investigation into the certification of this aircraft.”

The 85-page bill is sponsored by Representative Sam Graves of Missouri, the committee’s top Republican, and Representative Rick Larsen, the Washington State Democrat who leads the aviation subcommittee. It includes dozens of changes, including strengthening whistle-blower protections and requiring experts to review Boeing’s safety culture and make recommendations for improvement.

The bill also requires that manufacturers give the F.A.A., airlines and pilots detailed information about any system that can alter a plane’s flight path without input from a pilot. One such system, MCAS, has been blamed, at least in part, for the crashes of the Max in Ethiopia and Indonesia. In their report, the committee’s Democrats accused Boeing of downplaying the role of that system in the design of the Max to avoid a time-consuming federal review.

The legislation would also strengthen federal oversight

House bill would give FAA new oversight powers over Boeing after 737 Max crashes

The legislation also would provide the FAA an extra $30 million a year to beef up its own engineering and technical teams and calls for some two dozen other changes to the nation’s aviation safety regime.

The crashes, the first off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018, and the second in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in March 2019, killed a total of 346. In both cases, investigators have concluded that an automated system on the planes malfunctioned, driving their noses down as the pilots struggled in vain to regain control.

The Max was grounded worldwide soon thereafter.

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), the Transportation Committee’s chairman, said an investigation by his staff into the crashes had left him “alarmed.”

“But being alarmed and outraged is not where this story should end,” DeFazio said in a statement. “With the comprehensive legislation we are unveiling today, I believe history can also show this was the moment Congress stepped up to meaningfully address the gaps in the regulatory system for certifying aircraft and adopt critical reforms that will improve public safety and ensure accountability at all levels going forward.”

The committee Republicans’ support for the bill is something of a surprise because they have previously questioned Democrats’ focus on making changes to the FAA’s safety oversight system and did not take part in the committee’s investigation.

But Rep. Sam Graves (Mo.), the committee’s top Republican, said other expert reviews of the crashes highlighted problems with how the FAA conducts approvals for new planes that ought to be addressed.

“These thorough, nonpartisan, expert reviews provided recommendations that formulated the basis of improvements we are seeking through this legislation,” Graves said in a statement. “I believe this bill will improve safety and strengthen America’s competitiveness in the aerospace industry while ensuring that the United States

House bill takes aim at FAA delegation of oversight to Boeing

House lawmakers unveiled bipartisan legislation to reform aircraft manufacturing in the wake of the Boeing Co. 737 Max disasters, an effort that would partially undo efforts over decades to streamline aviation-industry approvals.

The measure released on Monday would tighten the Federal Aviation Administration’s control of programs at Boeing and other companies that allow employees to sign off on aircraft designs and would also require an expert panel to review Boeing’s safety culture.

The missteps that led to crashes on the Max “alarmed and outraged” lawmakers, said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), who is chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The bill is an attempt to “meaningfully address the gaps in the regulatory system for certifying aircraft and adopt critical reforms that will improve public safety and ensure accountability at all levels going forward.”

The bill is also backed by the committee’s ranking Republican, Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, and the leaders of the aviation subcommittee, increasing its chances of passing.

There appears to be strong support by members of both parties for at least some action, but contentious preelection politics and disputes over what such legislation should include could hinder passage this year. It’s also supported by several unions, including those representing FAA’s engineers and inspectors.

The measure was prompted by two crashes of the best-selling 737 Max that led to its grounding in March 2019.

The legislation was released as the FAA and other global aviation regulators are nearing approvals to return the plane to service. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson plans to fly the plane this week in a demonstration meant to reassure the public.

Democrats on the House committee this month concluded an 18-month investigation into what went wrong on the 737 Max design, finding fault with engineering failures, deception by Boeing and insufficient oversight by the FAA.

House Bill Takes Aim at FAA’s Delegation to Boeing of Oversight

(Bloomberg) — House lawmakers unveiled bipartisan legislation to reform aircraft manufacturing in the wake of the Boeing Co. 737 Max disasters, an effort that would partially undo efforts over decades to streamline aviation-industry approvals.



a propeller plane sitting on top of a green airplane: RENTON, WA - MARCH 11: A Boeing 737 MAX 8 is pictured outside the factory on March 11, 2019 in Renton, Washington. Boeing's stock dropped today after an Ethiopian Airlines flight was the second deadly crash in six months involving the Boeing 737 Max 8, the newest version of its most popular jetliner. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)s


© Photographer: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
RENTON, WA – MARCH 11: A Boeing 737 MAX 8 is pictured outside the factory on March 11, 2019 in Renton, Washington. Boeing’s stock dropped today after an Ethiopian Airlines flight was the second deadly crash in six months involving the Boeing 737 Max 8, the newest version of its most popular jetliner. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)s

The measure released on Monday would tighten the Federal Aviation Administration’s control of programs at Boeing and other companies that allow employees to sign off on aircraft designs, and would also require an expert panel to review Boeing’s safety culture.

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The missteps that led to crashes on the Max “alarmed and outraged” lawmakers, said Representative Peter DeFazio, the Oregon Democrat who is chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The bill is an attempt to “meaningfully address the gaps in the regulatory system for certifying aircraft and adopt critical reforms that will improve public safety and ensure accountability at all levels going forward.”

The bill is also backed by the committee’s ranking Republican, Representative Sam Graves of Missouri, and the leaders of the aviation subcommittee, increasing its chances of passing.

Bipartisan Support

There appears to be strong support by members of both parties for at least some action, but contentious pre-election politics and disputes over what such legislation should include could hinder passage this year. It’s also supported by several unions, including those representing FAA’s engineers and inspectors.

The measure was prompted by two crashes of the best-selling 737 Max that led to its grounding in March 2019.

The legislation was