Families of crash passengers want wider review of Boeing Max

The Max remains grounded after two deadly crashes

FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2019 file photo, Boeing Company President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg, right foreground, watches as family members hold up photographs of those killed in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610 crashes during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2019 file photo, Boeing Company President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg, right foreground, watches as family members hold up photographs of those killed in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610 crashes during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration will face questions about whether the agency is too cozy with Boeing when he testifies this week before a congressional panel.

The chairman of the House Transportation Committee says he plans to ask FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson about Boeing’s influence over the FAA’s Seattle office and incidents in which FAA managers vetoed the concerns of the agency’s own safety experts.

“We are having a hard time piercing the veil of how consistently and repeatedly Boeing is managing to pressure and overcome the objectives of the safety specialists,” committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said Monday in an interview.

Dickson is scheduled to testify at a hearing Wednesday, just as the FAA gears up to review changes Boeing is making in its 737 Max jet. The Max remains grounded after two deadly crashes.

READ MORE: Boeing replaces executive who oversaw 737 Max, other planes

Investigations into the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia point to a flight-control system called MCAS that automatically pushed the noses of the planes down in response to faulty readings from a sensor. Boeing is making MCAS less powerful and tying it to a second sensor. It is also proposing material for training pilots about MCAS, and fixing a separate issue around flight-control computers. The company hopes airlines can resume using the Max early next year.

Relatives of passengers who died in the second crash say FAA is focusing too narrowly on Boeing’s revamp of a flight-control system implicated in both accidents. They want a nose-to-tail review of every key system on the plane before the grounded planes can fly again.

“That’s a tombstone mentality” to focus only on MCAS, said Nadia Milleron, whose daughter died in the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max. “You don’t just wait until people die to address (other) systems.”

Chris Moore, whose daughter died in the Ethiopian crash, sent a list of questions that he hopes lawmakers will ask Dickson, including why the FAA didn’t ground the Max after the first crash, when a Lion Air Max plunged into the sea off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018.

About a dozen family members plan to attend Wednesday’s hearing. They are driven by a deep distrust of Boeing, and a few have delved into the details of aircraft manufacturing.

READ MORE: Boeing, FAA both faulted in certification of the 737 Max

When Boeing’s chief engineer told Congress that the company did not test what would happen if a single sensor tied to MCAS failed, family members and other critics seized on the disclosure to raise questions about Boeing’s analysis of other key systems on the plane.

Boeing employees conducted those assessments under a decades-old FAA policy — strengthened in 2005 — of relying on the technical knowledge of the companies that it regulates. FAA inspectors are supposed to oversee the work of those company employees, but published reports suggest that the agency knew little about MCAS when it certified the Max.

DeFazio said Monday that the FAA program of relying on aircraft company employees “obviously needs significant improvement,” but he hasn’t settled on how to do that. “I’m hoping Dickson can volunteer some ideas,” he said.

Dickson, a former Delta Air Lines pilot and executive, will be testifying about the Max for the first time since he became FAA administrator in August.

During previous hearings, lawmakers have accused FAA of favouring Boeing and overruling FAA experts in two other cases. One involved the placement of rudder cables on the Max that, in the view of FAA engineers, could make them vulnerable to being severed if an engine blew apart in flight.

The committee also plans to hear from several other witnesses, including Ed Pierson, a former Boeing production manager who protested a push to increase production of the Max. In an email to another Boeing executive in June 2018, which the committee made public in October, Pierson said he was hesitant to put his own family on a Boeing plane.

David Koenig, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Bella Coola RCMP are investigating the cause of the fire (Caitlin Thompson photo)
RCMP investigating Bay Motor Hotel fire

Anyone with information is asked to call Bella Coola RCMP 250 799 5363 or Crimestoppers

Phillip Tallio was just 17 when he was convicted of murder in 1983 (file photo)
Miscarriage of justice before Phillip Tallio’s 1983 guilty plea in girl’s murder: lawyer

Tallio was 17 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 22-month-old cousin

A third-party crew cut the Telus fiber line on Tuesday, Nov. 17, resulting in a nearly 24hr communications blackout for the Valley (Black Press Media)
Recent outage highlights vulnerabilites in local communication infrastructure

A third-party crew accidentally severed the cable on Highway 20, resulting in a valley-wide communications outage

The Bay Hotel burned to the ground last night (Christina Hoppe photo)
Bay Hotel burns to the ground in early morning fire

The building was abandoned and had been falling apart for years

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the department of ecosystem science and management, is presented with the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership - Professor, at a virtual ceremony today (Nov. 24) in recognition of her collaborative work with community partners and students to conserve Canada’s northern lands. (Photo submitted by Mitacs)
UNBC professor receives prestigious conservation award

Pamela Wright recognized for leadership in ‘breakthrough’ work on northern issues

Most Read