US aviation regulator faces heat over Boeing Max crash

World | 13 Mar 2019 3:28 pm

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is facing mounting criticism for backing the airworthiness of Boeing’s 737 Max jets as the number of countries that have grounded the aircraft grows in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash over the weekend.

The rest of the world typically takes it cues from the FAA, long considered the world’s gold standard for aircraft safety. Yet other aviation safety regulators, including the European Union, China, Australia and the United Kingdom, have decided not to wait for the FAA to act. The Ethiopian disaster came just five months after the deadly crash of another new Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Lion Air in Indonesia.

Peter DeFazio, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in a statement Tuesday that he’s concerned that international aviation regulators are providing more certainty to the flying public than the FAA.

"In the coming days, it is absolutely critical that we get answers as to what caused the devastating crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 and whether there is any connection to what caused the Lion Air accident just five months ago,” DeFazio said.

The FAA has increasingly become cozy with airplane manufacturers and airlines when it should be more pro-active in safety, said Bill McGee, aviation adviser for Consumer Reports.

The magazine and website on Tuesday called on airlines and the FAA to ground the 737 Max planes until an investigation into the cause of the Ethiopian crash is completed to see if it’s related to the Lion Air crash in October.

"They have not presented any evidence that the problems that we’ve seen with these two crashes are not problems that could potentially exist here in the U.S.,” McGee said.

"Increasingly the FAA is relying more and more on what the industry calls electronic surveillance,” added McGee, who has written about aviation for nearly two decades. "Not going out and kicking the tires, seeing the work being done, making sure it’s being done properly.”-AP

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