U.S. officials defend FAA safety record
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 3/27/19, 05:39 pm
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill grilled government officials in hearings Wednesday about what could have been done to prevent the two recent air tragedies that killed a total of 346 people aboard U.S.-manufactured planes. Acting Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Daniel Elwell told members of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee that his agency would have to hire 10,000 more workers and spend another $1.8 billion if it wanted to stop delegating duties to aircraft makers. He said the practice of working with airlines to conduct safety tests—which has come under scrutiny since the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max jets in Ethiopia and Indonesia—has been in use for 60 years and is “part of the fabric of what we’ve used to become as safe as we are today.”
At a hearing before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee earlier in the day, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao defended President Donald Trump when asked why it took him 14 months to propose a nominee to head the FAA. Trump announced earlier this month he would nominate former pilot and Delta Air Lines executive Stephen Dickson for the position. Chao said Elwell was qualified to lead in the meantime.
Boeing officials said Wednesday they hope to issue a software update to the flight-control program believed to have caused the crashes of a Lion Air flight on Oct. 29 and an Ethiopian Airlines flight on March 10. The United States and dozens of other countries have grounded all Boeing 737 Max planes until the issue can be fixed. Meanwhile, Boeing said the process by which it designs, develops, and tests planes has led to safer air travel, and it sees no reason to overhaul it.
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