The US audit report reveals “weaknesses” in the FAA’s 737 MAX certification

WASHINGTON: The US Transportation Department’s Inspector General has criticized “weaknesses” in the US government’s testimony of a Boeing 737 MAX that was grounded for 20 months after two accidents killed 346 people, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The 63-page report said the FAA did not have a full understanding of the Boeing safety system associated with both incidents and said there was “a lot of work left” to address the outstanding issues.

He also mentioned “weaknesses in management and oversight.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreed to implement all 14 of the report’s recommendations and said it “has already made significant progress toward implementing reforms that address some of your recommendations.”

Boeing said it “has made important changes to enhance our safety practices, and we have already made progress” in the recommendations contained in the report.

The report referred to “instances in which the company’s engineer himself worked on a specific design and then approved the design” as a Boeing employee performing certification duties for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The report added that the Federal Aviation Administration needs to do more to ensure that the personnel carrying out certification tasks are “sufficiently independent”.

This is the second report of the Office of the Inspector General on fatal accidents. The first, released in June, revealed that Boeing had failed to provide documents to the Federal Aviation Administration.

In December, Congress passed legislation to reform how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifies aircraft, particularly the long-standing practice of delegating some certification tasks to manufacturers.

The report urges the FAA to “incorporate lessons” from incidents into “implementing a risk-based approach” in delegating oversight and said reforms “will be vital to restoring confidence in the FAA accreditation process and ensuring the highest level of safety in future certification efforts”.

The new law strengthens the Federal Aviation Administration’s oversight of aircraft manufacturers, and requires disclosure of critical safety information and new protections for whistleblowers.

The legislation requires an independent review of Boeing’s safety culture. Boeing agreed to a US $ 2.5 billion settlement with the US Department of Justice in January in MAX as part of a deferred litigation agreement, a form of the company’s solicitation deal.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it is encouraging manufacturers to engage early in “their development process to provide the agency with a better understanding of the new features.”

It also works with other civil aviation authorities “to assess certification requirements for derivative aircraft, thus ensuring a consistent global approach to safety and similar assessment and addressing design changes”.

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