By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The acting head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will tell a congressional panel on Wednesday that the agency’s oversight approach must “evolve” after two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes since October, according to written testimony viewed by Reuters.
Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell will tell a Senate Commerce subcommittee that the airplane will return to service “only when the FAA’s analysis of the facts and technical data indicate that it is appropriate.”
Elwell’s testimony discloses that Boeing first submitted its proposed anti-stall software upgrade to the FAA for certification on Jan. 21 of this year and that the FAA has tested “this enhancement to the 737 MAX flight control system in both the simulator and the aircraft.”
Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment but is expected as early as Wednesday to unveil more details of the software upgrade.
Elwell will tell the panel that the FAA “will go
wherever the facts lead us, in the interest of safety.” He defended the FAA’s aircraft certification system, but acknowledged it faces challenges.
“As the aerospace system and its components become increasingly more complex, we know that our oversight approach needs to evolve to ensure that the FAA remains the global leader in achieving aviation safety,” Elwell’s testimony will say.
Separately, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt will tell the panel in written testimony that the board is “examining the U.S. design certification process to ensure any deficiencies are captured and addressed, potentially up to and including NTSB safety recommendations.”
Federal prosecutors and the Transportation Department’s inspector general are investigating the 737 MAX certification.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Nick Zieminski)