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US transport chief to ask Boeing to make decisions about the 737 MAX safety features

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. Transportation Secretary questioned on Wednesday why Boeing Co, it was not necessary to the safety devices on the top-selling 737 MAX, which would have prevented the two recent crashes, ahead of a long-awaited Senate hearing about the plane.

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, USA, 21 March, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo

“It is very doubtful whether these were safety-oriented additions, why they were not part of the desired template of measures that need to go in a plane,” the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said, who added she was not ready to require that all safety options are built on existing aircraft.

Shortly after the Chao said, Boeing confirmed it will, by default, a part of the safety on the now grounded 737 MAX, which might be warned earlier of any problems that may have played a role in the accidents of Ethiopian and Indonesian planes that killed almost 350 people. Reuters and other outlets reported on the plans last week.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, said she was considering the introduction of a bill that would require key “safety equipment” to be included in the base aircraft selling expenses.

“I feel very strongly that important safety equipment is to be included in the basic price of a plane,” she said.

Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat and the pilot, questioned Chao why it took the Federal Aviation Administration so long to the land of the 737 MAX while regulators around the world moved faster to halt the aircraft.

He also questioned why the safety mechanisms cannot be imposed by Boeing or the FAA. “It seems that we are following,” Manchin said, adding that it was “simply wrong” did not need the warning.

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At a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the transportation department’s budget, Chao said that the matter will be assessed by an external commission and the department of the inspector-general.

Chao said: “it is worrying that if it was indeed a part of the safety that it was not included.”

She also defended the FAA’s decision as a “fact-based” review and decided on the basis of the aircraft after it has received new satellite data and evidence on the place. Chao said 1,461 Boeing employees are involved in the certification. She also defended the FAA’s decision to Boeing to perform much of the certification work for the government.

FAA REVIEW

The FAA has said that it will be the software upgrade and the plans to mandate it in April, but has stressed that it does not agree to unground the aircraft until it has more details about what led to the March 10, Ethiopian Airlines crash.

Senator Ted Cruz, who will chair the hearing later on Wednesday, said on CNBC, “Another important point of research is the process of certification of the 737 MAX to start.”

“Why didn’t this process catch this problem if this was the cause of the accident?”

Slideshow (4 Images)

U.S. Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel will testify that the FAA is a significant modification of the monitoring approach to the safety of the air traffic in July 2019.

At the same hearing, the FAA’s acting administrator, Dan Elwell, told a Senate Commerce Committee panel of the agency monitoring approach should be “grow”.

Scovel’s testimony for the hearing of the first reported by Reuters says that in response to a 2015 inspector general report, the FAA agreed to improve the supervision of organizations for the execution of certifications to his name.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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