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Boeing Vetted Its Own Jets, FAA Failed to Raise Safety Concerns

Boeing Vetted Its Own Jets, FAA Failed to Raise Safety Concerns
Jackie Reddy

Bloomberg has reported that, even well before the debut of the 737 MAX 8 and the crash of ET302, Boeing had a considerable degree of input into the approval of its new aircraft types. It is also reported that the FAA delegated its responsibilities in terms of aircraft safety out to Boeing itself.

In the wake of the crash of ET302, it has been revealed that aircraft manufacturer Boeing wielded a significant amount of input into the approval process of its new planes, Bloomberg reports. The outlet states that Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) staff raised their concerns about the amount of input that Boeing was permitted to exercise back in 2012.

These longstanding concerns were investigated by the Department of Transport (DoT), who said that the FAA has not properly held Boeing to account.

Additionally, it has also been revealed that FAA employees who wished to express concerns over any of Boeing’s new designs feared being punished if they spoke out. Early this week, it was reported by The Seattle Times that, “Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers pushed the agency’s safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the resulting analysis.”

Furthermore, Bloomberg reports that, “In recent years, the FAA has shifted more authority over the approval of new aircraft to the manufacturer itself, even allowing Boeing to choose many of the personnel who oversee tests and vouch for safety. Just in the past few months, Congress expanded the outsourcing arrangement even further.”

The cause of the crash of ET302 has not yet been ascertained, but there are concerns that a flaw in the plane’s software – namely, its Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) – may have played a part in the incident.

Boeing has reiterated that the 737 MAX 8 was compliant with all safety standards.

However, in a statement to Bloomberg, Jim Hall, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said that this revelation, “…raises for me the question of whether the agency is properly funded, properly staffed and whether there has been enough independent oversight.”

[Image Source: Wikimedia/ pjs2005]

View Comments (7)


  1. RealityBites

    March 19, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    Form my understanding, Boeing regarded the MAX 8 as a development of a the existing 737
    airframe and so could rely on a lot of FAA compliance certification from earlier 737 models.

    In retrospect the moving of the engine location is really something which should have seen the FAA require an entirely new certification done on the aircraft, as it changes so many operational characteristics!

  2. PaulMSN

    March 20, 2019 at 5:49 am

    It was actually a design flaw “fixed” by flawed software. That design change should have triggered more scrutiny, not less.

    I suggest the FAA turn the vetting of Boeing planes over to Airbus and vice versa.

  3. DEN

    March 20, 2019 at 6:04 am

    Most companies design and test their own products and then submit results to a certification agency. This is true also for the Aircraft and Avionics industry. Many times these tests are witnessed by the testing or certification agency. What isn’t seen by these agencies is the Pre-Pre-Pre testing that can show faults or shortcomings. The Boeing Dreamliner fire issue is a good example where battery fires and failures were known and predicted by the external design/testing lab during development.

    We can all be comforted (?) to know that changes were made to the battery charging and monitoring system and they were placed in a stronger metal container which will contain the fire if (when) it happens again.

    From what I have read by self proclaimed aviation experts is that the 737 MAX 8 and 9 are really a different aircraft from the other 373’s and it was just called a 737 to try to escape additional design and certification issues.

    The total truth will come out, but probably much after the aircraft are put back into service with the “software” fix. Internal FMEA (Google it) documents are often closely held but can be an interesting read.


  4. Bidkat

    March 20, 2019 at 6:50 am

    Agreed. That fundamentally changed the design and handling to something unfamiliarvfor most pilots. I trust Boeing’s software fix about as much as I trused Microsoft’s Vista.

    I will never board a Max 8.

  5. Jackie_414

    March 20, 2019 at 9:41 am

    Not one comment about pilot training . . . until now. Wonder why there have been no 737-Max crashes in the United States? There are lots of cycles logged on the Max in the US, so why hasn’t a Max porpoised into the ground here? Simple! The US has the best trained pilots in the world and they know when to take control of the aircraft. Yes, it does appear that the code needs correction Nonetheless, Boeing makes an aircraft that allows the pilot to take control by overriding the autopilot systems, instead of panicking as has been reported about the Ethiopian captain.

  6. YOWisHome

    March 20, 2019 at 10:39 am

    @Jackie_414…….Watch a Video from one of the Pilots whom was “trained” on it….56 minute iPad course????

    Also you can not override MCAS with the Auto Pilot Disconnect — You have to kill the Stab Trim. Again not something you would do in the NG or older 737…..Again training…….Need to know what the plane is able to do for you to interpret the commands.

    Also no message on a screen about the MCAS being Active??? Why not? If the Seat Belt light is on there is a notification on the screens…..

    Pilot Training matters but it only works if the manual actually has the info in it to train people.

  7. Tailgater

    April 3, 2019 at 6:57 am

    I suspected a terrorism attack after the first plane crashed into WTC, not the second. Here, FAA sits on its butt even after the second 737Max crash while practically the rest of the world grounds the model. Days after the FAA acts. What a sad case for FAA reputation. Any layman could see that the Boeing model should have been immediately grounded after—-Geeez!—the second crash. Seems as through only reason FAA even grounded it because USA was about the only one still defending the model.

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