Transportation Department Committee to Probe Max Certification

 - March 25, 2019, 4:28 PM

The U.S. Department of Transportation has established a special committee to review the procedures of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the certification of new aircraft, including the Boeing 737 Max. Retired Air Force General Darren McDew, the former head of the U.S. Transportation Command, and Lee Moak, former president of the Air Line Pilots Association, have agreed to serve as the interim co-chairs of the committee pending the appointment of other members.

“Safety is the number one priority of the department, and this review by leading outside experts will help determine if improvements can be made to the FAA aircraft certification process,” said Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

The committee will serve as an independent body that will present findings and recommendations directly to Chao and the FAA Administrator.

In a statement, Boeing welcomed the move as a means to advance a "shared goal" of ensuring safety in the aviation industry and engendering trust in the flying public. "Safety is our top priority when we design, build, deliver, and maintain Boeing aircraft," the company said. "Boeing has been engaged with the DOT, FAA, our airline customers as well as other aviation community partners for decades to make flying the world’s safest mode of transportation.”

Chao also has asked the DOT Inspector General’s office to conduct a formal audit of the certification process for the Boeing 737 Max 8, the department confirmed last Tuesday.

That probe, said Chao, will compile “an objective and detailed factual history of the activities that resulted in the certification of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.”

The government scrutiny into the workings of the Max program’s certification process comes as Ethiopian authorities noted “clear similarities” between information gleaned from the flight data and cockpit voice recorders recovered from the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed just southeast of Addis Ababa on March 10 and the October 29, 2018, crash of a Lion Air Max 8 off the coast of Indonesia.