Head of International 737 Max Review, Ntsb Chair to Testify Before Senate

By David Shepardson | October 23, 2019
WASHINGTON — The chair of a panel of international regulators that harshly criticized the Federal Aviation Administration’s certification of the now grounded Boeing 737 MAX will testify Tuesday before a Senate committee.

Christopher Hart, a former National Transportation Safety Board chair who oversaw the review, will speak before the Senate Commerce Committee alongside current NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt, the panel said in a statement Wednesday.

They will appear after the testimony of Boeing Co chief executive Dennis Muilenburg and John Hamilton, who is vice president and chief engineer for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Muilenburg will then testify before a U.S. House panel on Wednesday.

The testimony will take place on the first anniversary of the crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX jet that killed all 189 on board. On Wednesday, Indonesian investigators told victims’ families that mechanical and design issues contributed to the crash.

Contributing factors to the crash included incorrect assumptions on how an anti-stall device, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), functioned and how pilots would react, slides in the presentation showed.

Congress is mulling changes to how the FAA delegates some certification tasks to manufacturers for new airplanes. In the 737 MAX certification it initially delegated 40% of the work to Boeing and later shifted more work to Boeing, including MCAS.

The report from the Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR), commissioned by the FAA, faulted the review of MCAS and Boeing for assumptions it made in designing the airplane.

On Friday, Boeing turned over to the FAA instant messages from November 2016 from a former Boeing technical pilot to another pilot that it had withheld for months, raising questions about what the company knew about MCAS. Boeing has suggested the messages raised concerns about the simulator and not MCAS itself. FAA demanded an immediate explanation for why the messages were not turned over earlier.

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