Aviation Officials Face Grilling Over 737 Max Crashes, Recall

Senators grilled government officials about aviation oversight Wednesday in the wake of two fatal crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max.

Countries around the world recently grounded Boeing’s 737 Max after the plane was involved in two fatal crashes in less than five months: Indonesia’s Lion Air Flight 610 in October and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 earlier this month. It’s been reported that data from both flights share similarities.

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Software for the Boeing 737 Max, which the Chicago-based aerospace company is updating, and safety features classified as optional are at the heart of the scrutiny – and a federal probe – over the design and marketing of the aircraft as well as the FAA’s certification of it.

Among those questioned by the Senate’s aviation subcommittee on Wednesday were Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Federal Aviation Administration Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell.

“Let me emphasize that safety is always No. 1 at the Department of Transportation,” Chao told the subcommittee. “And a good day is when nothing bad happens.”

Chao on Wednesday announced an independent audit of the 737 Max’s FAA certification process and an advisory committee to provide recommendations for better oversight and safety regulations for the aviation industry.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, indicated Boeing representatives and other aviation professionals outside of the government would be questioned during a future hearing.

Joining us to offer their perspectives are Crain’s Chicago Business reporter Claire Bushey and commercial pilot Rob Mark, who’s also senior editor of the aviation magazine Flying and publisher of the aviation blog JetWhine.

Follow Evan Garcia on Twitter: @EvanRGarcia

Related stories:

AP Source: Justice Department Probing Development of Boeing Jets

FAA’s Close Ties to Boeing Questioned After 2 Deadly Crashes

US Grounding of Boeing Jet Shows Limits of Company’s Clout

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