The acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that Boeing should have done more to explain an automated flight-control system on its 737 Max aircraft before two deadly crashes, but he defended his agency's safety certification of the plane and its decision not to ground the jet until regulators around the world had already done so.
"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.
Boeing has been working to get its Boeing 737 Max back in the good books of governments worldwide after it was involved in two crashes within five months of each other and grounded.
In audio obtained by CBS News, members of AA's pilots' union quizzed Boeing officials about the system - knowns as MCAS - in a tense meeting in November a year ago, weeks after a Lion Air Max crashed in Indonesia and four months before the loss of an Ethiopian Airlines Max.
The Transportation Department's inspector general and a Senate committee are looking into the FAA's relationship with Boeing, and the House subcommittee is likely to follow a similar path.
"I think that's an issue, sir", Elwell said under questioning by DeFazio.
Addressing the topic of autonomous shipping at a Nautical Institute conference Coles was blunt in his assessment saying the shipping industry suffers from the same failings that led to the two fatal crashes of the Boeing 737 Max and its grounding globally.
"Despite the enviable track record of aviation safety in the USA over the past decade and more, we must never rest", Dickson said.
"The FAA needs to fix its credibility problem", Larsen said. The crashes killed 346 people.
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"I'm pleased to have such a qualified nominee before us", said the committee's top Democrat, Maria Cantwell of Washington, who also praised Dickson for his service in the Air Force. Modern aviation safety systems are created to prevent pilot error from causing the loss of an airplane.
The FAA has come under fire for approving the feature known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, and for giving the planemaker too much authority to regulate the safety of its planes. But Elwell has said that without the cooperative approach to safety analysis, the FAA would need 10,000 more employees and $1.8 billion in additional funding.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, the chairman of the full transportation committee, said a key question revolves around how some pilots apparently didn't know how to respond to the MCAS technology, which causes aircraft to change pitch on their own to avoid a stall.
"These guys didn't even know the damn system was on the airplane - nor did anybody else", another said.
Elwell said the United States body acted only after "data" showed a connected between the October Lion Air crash and the March Ethiopian Airlines crashes.
"Boeing has yet to provide a single document", he said.
The Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines pilots, tweeted a Dallas Morning News article on the meeting.
Boeing is redesigning the MCAS system to make it less prone to operate in error.
"The unions are concerned that the safety benefits of a second set of eyes provided by direct oversight of both domestic and foreign certification projects in high risk aspects of the certification process has not been recognized as an essential function within" FAA, the unions wrote in the report.