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Boeing website, 737 MAX, under magnifying glass.

New FAA Panel to Investigate Boeing Safety Procedures

Jan. 5, 2023
According to a federal law, the agency will convene a council of aerospace experts and industry representatives to review the OEM’s safety culture following the deadly 737 MAX accidents.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) appointed a new panel of aerospace experts and industry representatives to review safety-management procedures at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, and how those procedures are influencing the OEM’s “safety culture” in the aftermath of two 737 MAX crashes, in 2018 and 2019. Those incidents killed 346 passengers and crew members aboard the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines jets, and led to a 19-month shutdown of the 737 MAX program.

The panel will have nine months to conduct its inquiry and issue a report, together with any recommendations.

The investigation into the causes of the two crashes focused on the electronic flight control systems of the 737 MAX, which Boeing redesigned before FAA and other safety agencies recertified the aircraft’s airworthiness, and its return to commercial operations in 2021.

However, the 2019-2020-investigation into the 737 MAX also led to accusations that Boeing had pushed its engineers and safety inspectors to expedite their work on the aircraft in the period leading up to its initial certification, in 2017.

Following those allegations, the U.S. Congress passed legislation to strengthen FAA’s authority over aircraft production and certification processes.  

The new FAA panel is a product of that Congressional oversight. The panel includes representatives of FAA, NASA, aerospace unions, Boeing rival Airbus, engine builders GE Aviation and Pratt & Whitney, and 737 MAX operators American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines.