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Thread: US DoT Investigating FAA Certification of 737 MAX

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb US DoT Investigating FAA Certification of 737 MAX

    ATW Online; Monday 18 March 2019
    DOT investigating FAA certification of 737 MAX

    The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is investigating FAA’s certification process for Boeing 737 MAX family aircraft, adding to mounting pressure on the agency and the manufacturer following the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302.

    The DOT inspector general inquiry, first reported March 17 by the Wall Street Journal, is centered on a Seattle-area FAA office responsible for certifying new aircraft, as well as a second Seattle-area office that sets training requirements and approves fleetwide training programs.

    FAA employees in those offices have reportedly been instructed to preserve all emails, reports and internal messages related to the 737 MAX certification process, as well as FAA’s decision to forego additional flight-simulator training requirements for pilots transitioning from older models of the aircraft.

    An FAA representative directed requests for comment about the probe to the DOT. A DOT spokesperson declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

    The Wall Street Journal also reported that a grand jury in Washington, DC, issued a subpoena the day after the Ethiopian Airlines crash to at least one person involved in the development of the MAX. That subpoena reportedly lists as a contact a prosecutor with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) criminal division. The DOJ did not respond to a request from ATW for comment.

    By: Ben Goldstein
    Read more at: https://atwonline.com/safety/dot-inv...cation-737-max

    NS Comment: 737 MAX was launched on August 30, 2011. It performed its first flight on January 29, 2016, gaining FAA certification on March 8, 2017.
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    Default Re: US DoT Investigating FAA Certification of 737 MAX

    Seattle Times; Monday 25 March 2019
    DOT launches new scrutiny of entire FAA certification process

    Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Monday the establishment of an expert “special committee” to review the FAA procedures for the certification of new aircraft, including the Boeing 737 MAX.

    Air Force General (Ret.) Darren McDew, former head of the U.S. Transportation Command, and Captain Lee Moak, former President of the Air Line Pilots Association, will serve as the interim co-chairs of the panel, pending the appointment of other members.

    Flaws in a new flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), that Boeing introduced on the MAX are suspected as having played a major role in two crashes in less than five months.

    The DOT special committee will conduct a broader investigation into how the FAA certifies new airplanes as safe. The way that currently works, in a process mandated by Congress, is that Boeing does most of the safety evaluations itself, then passes paperwork to the FAA for review.

    A Seattle Times story this month revealed concern among FAA technical staff that they were not given enough time to do proper oversight of Boeing’s work on the safety analyses during certification of the MAX, and that too much of the analysis was delegated to Boeing employees.

    Announcing the special committee Monday, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said, “This review by leading outside experts will help determine if improvements can be made to the FAA aircraft certification process.”


    Boeing issued a statement in response saying the company looks forward to working with the special committee “to advance our shared goal of an aviation industry that is safe and trusted by the flying public.”

    By: Dominic Gates
    Read more at: https://www.seattletimes.com/busines...ation-process/

    NS Comment: Good idea. Let's see if the system can be improved.
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    Default Re: US DoT Investigating FAA Certification of 737 MAX

    Seem to remember there was some worry in aviation circles. When ongoing series development of an aircraft meant not having to go through new aircraft type certification was room for concern.
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    Default Re: US DoT Investigating FAA Certification of 737 MAX

    ATW Online; Wednesday 27 March 2019
    FAA details Boeing 737 MAX MCAS oversight handover

    FAA retained oversight of the Boeing MAX’s new manuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) early on in the aircraft's certification process, but later delegated it to Boeing once the agency was confident the company had the expertise to manage it, FAA acting administrator Dan Elwell told a Senate hearing March 27.

    MCAS, which provides automatic stabilizer inputs that put the aircraft's nose down, is the focus of the October 2018 crash of Lion Air flight JT610, a 737 MAX 8. The system is also being eyed in the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302, also a MAX 8. In both cases, the new aircraft struggled to maintain altitude and dove to impact.

    "As a new device on an amended type certificate, we retained the oversight [of MCAS],” Elwell said. As the organization designation authorization process for the MAX was refined “under very strict review,” MCAS was among the items shifted to the manufacturer.

    The revelation, made before the US Senate aviation and space subcommittee chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), sheds additional light on how MCAS was vetted and approved, and suggests FAA had more input on the system than previously understood.

    In written testimony presented to the subcommittee, Elwell said the agency “was directly involved in the System Safety Review” of MCAS.

    “FAA engineers and flight test pilots were involved in the MCAS operational evaluation flight test” and 133 of the 297 MAX certification flight tests, he said. Elwell could not immediately provide a timeline on when MCAS was delegated to Boeing, as part of the certification process.

    The acting administrator said MCAS - added to the MAX to make it handle like its 737NG predecessor in certain fight profiles - was not flagged by pilots as a relevant change from the 737NG during certification.


    The 737 MAX flight standardization board (FSB), made up of 737NG pilots from carriers around the world, flew 737 MAX aircraft and simulators to compare the two models - a routine process when manufacturers develop new models under amended type certificates.

    “After many scenarios and flights in all regimes, there was a consensus that there was no marked difference in the handling characteristics of these two aircraft,” Elwell said. This, he explained, was the primary reason that more information on MCAS was not provided to pilots.

    Both 737NG and MAX pilots are given the same checklists for runaway stabilizer, including a step to activate cut-out switches that cut power to the stabilizer. It is supposed to be memorized.

    “Pilots are trained that if they get an input that they did not ask for, they go through the appropriate procedure,” Elwell said.

    Runaway stabilizer on the 737NG and MAX “presents itself the same way, and it's dealt with the same way,” he added.

    Cruz pressed Elwell, noting that pulling back a 737NG yoke, which pulls the nose up, activates column cut-out switches that interrupt STS-related automatic stabilizer movements. But because MCAS is designed to push the aircraft's nose down, it bypasses the same switches on the MAX.

    Elwell responded by noting - correctly - that the 737NG and MAX “stabilizer runaway” checklist does not include pulling back on the yoke.


    By: Sean Broderick
    Read more at: https://atwonline.com/safety/faa-det...sight-handover

    NS Comment: Analysts quipping about Stab Trim Cutoff switches need to understand the differences pointed out in this article.
    Last edited by No Smoking; March 28th, 2019 at 22:19.
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    Default Re: US DoT Investigating FAA Certification of 737 MAX

    ATW Online; Monday 01 April 2019
    US lawmakers urge DOT to probe pilot training, cockpit automation

    US lawmakers, determined to leave no stone unturned as they push for answers in the aftermath of two Boeing 737 MAX crashes in five months, have asked the US Department of Transportation (DOT) auditor to investigate pilot training, with emphasis on cockpit automation and international standards.

    The request, made via a March 29 letter from the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) committee and aviation subcommittee leadership to DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovel, targets three areas:

    • FAA issuing new cockpit automation management guidance;
    • Comparing pilot training standards in the US and abroad; and
    • Reviewing cockpit automation training procedures.


    “An aviation accident never has just one contributing factor, and while the US remains the safest aviation system in the world we must always work to eliminate risks,” T&I committee ranking member Sam Graves (R-Missouri) said.

    The pilot-training probe is one of several launched in the US in the wake of the MAX crashes. Others are looking at FAA’s certification standards and the MAX certification, in particular.

    By: Sean Broderick & Ben Goldstein
    Read more at: https://atwonline.com/training/us-la...pit-automation

    NS Comment: The US lawmakers appear to be taking the view that pilot training in the US is superior to internation training standards.
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    Default Re: US DoT Investigating FAA Certification of 737 MAX

    What worries me is that several crew I have spoken to were not aware of the significance of the MCAS , and they are type rated on the Max and NG !!!!!!!
    B737,757,767 , A320/330/340 ........ And several bars .....

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    Default Re: US DoT Investigating FAA Certification of 737 MAX

    Computer driven automatic aircraft recovery from a potential stall. Is that a better system then warning the pilot of a potential stall and letting the pilot recover the aircraft?
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