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The Latest: FAA acting head stands by safety certification

Daniel Elwell Photo: AP
Daniel Elwell

May 15, 2019 03:22 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on investigation into safety review of the troubled Boeing 737 Max (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

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The acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that Boeing should have done more to explain an automated flight-control system on its 737 Max aircraft before two deadly crashes, but he defended his agency's safety certification of the plane and its decision not to ground the jet until other regulators around the world had already done so.

The FAA official, Daniel Elwell, said he expects Boeing to submit a fix to the plane's flight-control software "in the next week or so." The FAA will analyze the changes, conduct test flights and determine what additional pilot training is needed before letting the planes fly again, he said.

The FAA has been criticized for being too cozy with aircraft maker Boeing Co. in approving the 737 Max jet. The Max has crashed twice in the past year, killing 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

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12:15 p.m.

Former Delta Air Lines pilot and executive Stephen Dickson asserts that he will make sure the Federal Aviation Administration does not become captive to the industry if he is confirmed as its chief.

He tells the Senate Commerce Committee considering his confirmation that he will make an iron-clad commitment that his service would be to the American public.

Dickson pointed to his time as Air Force fighter jet pilot as an example of his public service. He says he has a track record of working in a collaborative fashion but he understands safety decisions must be made by the FAA. He also says he wouldn't hesitate to take enforcement action against a company if he's confirmed.

The FAA has been criticized for being too cozy with aircraft maker Boeing Co. in approving the 737 Max jet. The Max has crashed twice in the past year, killing 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

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11:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump's nominee to head the Federal Aviation Administration says he's committed to making any changes recommended by groups looking into how the agency certifies the safety of airliners.

Under questioning during a Senate committee confirmation hearing, Stephen Dickson says he would never abdicate his responsibility for making sure planes are safe.

The FAA has been criticized for allowing employees of aircraft manufacturers to do safety inspections of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

Senators asked about media reports that high-ranking FAA officials didn't monitor crucial safety assessments of the Max.

Dickson told senators it's important not to jump to conclusions. But he guaranteed that he would take corrective actions recommended by groups looking into the FAA's processes.

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11:17 a.m.

The families of people killed aboard a Boeing aircraft now under scrutiny say regulators should wait for investigators looking into a pair of crashes to conclude their work before allowing those planes to fly again.

Nadia Milleron, whose daughter, Samya Stumo, was on an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed in March, said Wednesday the FAA seems to be rushing to approve Boeing's fixes to the Boeing 737 Max 8. She said regulators should wait until the accident investigations are finished —something that could take many months— "and it is possible that these planes should never go back in the air."

Milleron said people hold the power to ground the plane.

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10:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Federal Aviation Administration says safety will be his top priority if he is confirmed.

Former Delta Air Lines executive and pilot Stephen Dickson says US aviation has an enviable safety record over the past decade. But he says the industry is only as good as the last takeoff or landing.

In testimony prepared for a Senate Committee's confirmation hearing, Dickson said Wednesday that new technology such as aircraft automation and air traffic control systems can provide benefits. But they can also bring changes to a mature safety system that need to be managed carefully.

Dickson also says making sure the FAA keeps its standing as the world's top safety agency will be a priority if he's confirmed.

The FAA has faced criticism for approving flight-control software for the Boeing 737 Max. Two of the planes have crashed in the past year in Ethiopia and Indonesia, killing 346 people.

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10:30 a.m.

With Congress stepping up its investigation into the troubled Boeing 737 Max airliner and how it passed regulatory safety checks, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration is testifying before a House aviation panel.

The FAA has been in the spotlight over how much autonomy it's given to Boeing and the review process it must complete before a plane is deemed safe for public use.

Questions about the relationship between regulators and Boeing arose after two deadly crashes of the 737 Max aircraft.

House Aviation subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen says the FAA has a credibility problem.

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(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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