Pilots confronted Boeing about 737 Max issues before deadly crash in March

The 737 MAX 8 is currently grounded worldwide after the March crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that killed all 157 people onboard. — Reuters pic

Carey said his pilots are seeking "proper oversight" of Boeing, the FAA and airlines including their own.

"In the U.S., the 737 Max will return to service only when the FAA's analysis of the facts and technical data indicate that it is safe to do so, " he told members of the House aviation subcommittee.

LEWIS: The FAA is under scrutiny for how closely it relied on Boeing to certify the 737 Max.

He said that over the course of some 50,000 flights done by the 737 Max 8, the FAA received 24 reports from pilots related to "some sort of anomaly on pitch". Those accidents killed almost 350 people.

"It bothers me that we continue to tear down our system based on what has happened in two other countries, " said Representative Sam Graves, a Republican of Missouri. The nominee, Stephen Dickson, is a former military and airline pilot and Delta Air Lines executive.

"We will not allow the 737 Max to fly in the USA unless it is absolutely safe to do so", Daniel Elwell, acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, told lawmakers Wednesday without offering an estimate for how long the review would take.

Larsen, however, added a note of economic urgency to the FAA's upcoming decision on the plane's safety. "If the public is concerned and if the Boeing 737 Max 8 ... becomes toxic ... that's going to make a change". Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The growing use of designated employees to assist in certification is part of the evolving philosophy of greater cooperation between the FAA and the companies it regulates, Boeing said in a statement. "To me we haven't got a business case at the moment, I'm still looking for the business case that tells me we will have dual systems on board that are fully reliable, an oil drip won't spark off a fire that will be uncontrollable and that we don't need crew on board".

Boeing and the FAA are facing multiple investigations focusing not only on the crashes, but also on the process by which the 737 MAX was originally certified for flight.

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The hearing comes amid a near-constant trickle of news reports in recent weeks that have raised pointed questions about both Boeing's and the FAA's handling of an aircraft that has been grounded globally following two deadly crashes that left 346 dead.

Elwell defended the FAA's 2017 approval of the Max, including its new automated flight-control system, which can push the nose of the plane down if a single sensor detects the plane could be nearing an aerodynamic stall.

Now, as the investigation into the cause of the crashes is still ongoing, a recording obtained by CBS News indicates that pilots didn't feel comfortable flying the planes even before the March crash.

Reports Tuesday in The New York Times and The Dallas Morning News recounted the November meeting at which pilots pressed Boeing to take more aggressive action to ensure the safety of the MCAS, complaining that information about the system was not included in training manuals.

"I, as a pilot, when I first heard about this, I thought there should have been more text in the manual about MCAS, I agree", he said.

Elwell said he expects Boeing to make its formal submission for a MCAS software update in the next week or so.

Under the FAA's delegation system, companies such as Boeing can appoint people to work as the FAA's "authorized representatives" with the ability to issue certifications.

He also faulted Boeing for failing to inform airlines and the FAA that a light that is supposed to flash when there is a faulty reading from the sensors did not work.

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