By Andy Pasztor and Ted Mann
WASHINGTON -- The Federal Aviation Administration has a "credibility problem" related to its safety certification of Boeing Co.'s 737 MAX aircraft, according to the chairman of a House panel.
"The FAA needs to fix its credibility problem," Rep. Rick Larsen (D., Wash.), said Wednesday at a hearing of the aviation subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The aircraft has been implicated in two fatal crashes.
Members of the committee also signaled frustration at the progress of their oversight investigation into Boeing, the 737 Max aircraft, and the FAA's approval of the airliner to enter service.
"The FAA has only begun to turn over documents which we requested months ago," said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.), the transportation committee chairman at the hearing. "Boeing has yet to provide a single document."
Members of the committee also have zeroed in on how the FAA allows third parties, including manufacturers like Boeing, designate some safety certifications.
A recent Wall Street Journal report cited an internal review that found senior FAA officials didn't participate in or monitor crucial safety assessments of the flight-control system later implicated in the two crashes.
"If that is in fact true, the (designation) process is not working as Congress intended," Mr. Larsen said.
Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell said he was "not aware of an internal assessment that reaches that conclusion."
Mr. Elwell ordered the initial assessment after the first 737 MAX crash in Indonesia last October, and its findings have been shared with officials at the Department of Transportation, according to government and industry officials.
"if we have robust oversight... it's a good system," Mr. Elwell said of the designation procedure. "But it can always be made better."
(More to come)
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