Aviation experts blast FAA over 737 MAX redesign approval

More than 300 people were killed in two 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia

The report cited signs that Boeing put "undue pressures" on employees who worked on the certification of the plane, further damaging confidence in the FAA's program of delegating some safety-related work to employees of the companies that it regulates.

The report goes on to criticize the FAA for lacking sufficient personnel with the expertise needed to fully evaluate such complex systems. The Boeing organization that conducts such work has about 1,500 people, while the FAA team overseeing their work has 45.

Boeing's top-selling 737 MAX plane has been grounded since mid-March following two deadly crashes that killed 346 people.

According to the report, the FAA, in turn, failed to effectively analyze what Boeing did share about the new plane.

In the wake of the two accidents involving the 737 Max, the FAA has come in for some strong criticism. "However while some modern safety tools were incorporated into the MAX's design, some were left out after Boeing deemed them 'impractical".

But recently it has been accused of becoming too close to the aerospace giant, and failing to exercise proper oversight.

Earlier this week, Reuters reported a key certification test flight would likely not take place until at least November 1, a move that will push its approval to resume flights until at least December.

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In its report issued Friday, the panel made 12 recommendations for improving the FAA's certification of new aircraft, including more emphasis on understanding how pilots will handle the increasing amount of automation driving modern planes.

But the problem remains: if certification depends on Boeing marking its own homework, how can the FAA be sure it's doing the job properly?

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement he would review the panel's recommendations and take appropriate action following the "unvarnished and independent review of the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX".

Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal said the report confirms "our worst fears about a failed broken system of aviation safety scrutiny".

"Today's unprecedented US safety record was built on the willingness of aviation professionals to embrace hard lessons and to seek continuous improvement", Dickson said in the statement. "The accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia are a sombre reminder that the FAA and our global regulatory partners must strive to constantly strengthen aviation safety".

The company is also facing more than 100 lawsuits over the crashes alleging design flaws allowed erroneous sensor data to set off an automated anti-stall system and overwhelm pilots.

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