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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

FAA engineers initially recommended grounding Boeing 737 Max, report says

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After a second fatal incident in 2019, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) initially disregarded the advice of its own experts to ground the Boeing 737 Max, according to a study.

Engineers “recommended grounding the airplane while the accident was being investigated based on what they perceived as similarities” between two recent Boeing 737 MAX crashes, according to investigators, the inspector general for the Department of Transportation (DoT) reported.

The DoT study, which was published on Friday, April 28, 2023, said there were also competing data at the time that determined the two disasters were unrelated.

In the end, the FAA chose to wait for “more detailed data to arrive” rather than immediately ground the aircraft after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed on March 10, 2019.

In March 2019, CNN reports, the FAA released a formal notice in support of its decision not to ground the 737 MAX while it awaited more information.

An engineer came to the conclusion at the time that the risk of a 737 MAX crash was 13 times higher than the pertinent FAA guideline based on their analysis.

However, due to a lack of comprehensive data, this document was not finished and was not reviewed.

In its conclusion, the inspector general said that the FAA’s processes following the second fatal crash “aligned with its typical processes” but referred to these as “outdated”.

When significant safety hazards are discovered, the FAA informed the inspector general that it was modifying its regulations on grounding an aircraft.

The FAA told CNN that it “concurs with the Inspector General’s recommendations.”

“The agency also identified the issues outlined in the report before it was issued and is working to address them,” the FAA said. “As we incorporate these recommendations, we also continue to look for additional opportunities to apply lessons learned from the Boeing 737 MAX’s return to service.”

A Lion Air flight was involved in the first fatal 737 MAX disaster on October 29, 2018.

Three days passed after the disaster of Ethiopian Airlines seven months later before the 737 MAX was grounded in the US.

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