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FAA must improve inspections after Boeing 737 MAX crashes: review

25 February 2021, MVT 14:43
(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 12, 2019 the Boeing logo is pictured at the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton, Washington. - Boeing reported on October 23, 2019 a sharp drop in third-quarter earnings due to the 737 MAX grounding, but said it still expects regulatory approval this year to return the plane to service. The aviation giant, which has been in crisis mode following two MAX crashes that killed 346 people, said it "has assumed that regulatory approval of the 737 MAX return to service begins in the fourth quarter of 2019." (Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP)
25 February 2021, MVT 14:43

The US Federal Aviation Administration must improve inspections of new aircrafts, a government body concluded in a report published Wednesday examining procedures around the Boeing 737 MAX after two fatal accidents.

The 60-page report, from the inspector general of the US Department Transportation, found that "weaknesses" in the MAX's certification process affected testing of the aircraft model, which was authorized to fly in 2017.

"We identified limitations in FAA’s guidance and processes that impacted certification and led to a significant misunderstanding of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), the flight control software identified as contributing to the two accidents," the report said.

According to the findings, the FAA "did not have a complete understanding of Boeing’s safety assessments performed on MCAS until after the first accident," in which a Lion Air flight crashed in off Indonesia October 2018 killing 189.

An Ethiopian Airlines flight also went down just five months later, killing 157.

The report was published only days after the aerospace giant faced more trouble when a Pratt & Whitney engine on a 777 aircraft failed spectacularly, raining debris down on neighborhoods in Denver, Colorado.

Eyebrows were raised when the FAA revealed they had already considered imposing stricter inspections on the engines after an incident on a Japan Airlines flight last year.

The Department of Transportation offered 14 recommendations in the 737 MAX report for the FAA to identify potential risks in time.

The recommendations include a call for the FAA to require analyses of "failure probability" and to "implement processes for manufacturers to officially notify FAA certification engineers of any changes made to System Safety Assessments, including after FAA flight testing has begun."

A statement from the FAA was included in the report, indicating the regulator agreed with its conclusions.

The agency has already taken steps to "ensure a more holistic assessment of aircraft design change," the FAA said.

Washington, United States | AFP