FAA chief faces questioning over Boeing 737 Max airliner

The 737 Max consists of four versions all of which have the MCAS system. The 737 Max 8 was involved both crashes.                  Boeing

The 737 Max consists of four versions all of which have the MCAS system. The 737 Max 8 was involved both crashes. Boeing

In a tense recording obtained by CBS News from American's pilots union, pilots pressed Boeing on why a flight control system under investigation as the cause of the crash was not disclosed to them when the 737 Max was originally launched.

Southwest LUV has accused Boeing of not disclosing that a standard safety feature created to warn pilots about malfunctioning sensors had been deactivated on the Max before the Lion Air crash in Indonesia.

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday he believes documentation on Boeing's 737 MAX should have told pilots more about the safety system that's suspect in two crashes that killed 346 people.

The FAA reportedly finds that senior agency officials failed to monitor key safety assessments of Boeing's 737 Max flight-control system. Subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen, a Washington Democrat, issued a press release Tuesday seeking answers from FAA on the crashes.

"The committee's investigation is just getting started, and it will take some time to get answers, but one thing is clear right now: The FAA has a credibility problem", he said.

"We scan and filter every one of those flights for evidence that there were MCAS. anomalies in the USA fleet", he said, again reiterating that the FAA found no reports of that kind. "The program allows the FAA to leverage its resources and technical expertise while holding the applicant accountable for compliance".

"We flat out deserve to know what is on our airplanes", one pilot says on the recording. The carrier hadn't taken delivery of any of the planes before the grounding began, and Boeing executives indicated last month that they would strike the orders from the backlog. United UAL said that it learned about the deactivated feature after the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March.

The Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines pilots, tweeted a Dallas Morning News article on the meeting.

But at the time of the meeting on November 27, Boeing executives at the meeting resisted the pilots' calls for urgent action, according to the recordings. The investigation results so far, however, have not suggested Boeing intentionally misled the FAA.

Daniel Elwell, the FAA's acting administrator and a former commercial pilot, said in testimony before a congressional committee that he expects the FAA will amplify the description of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) system so that pilots will be able to better respond to an anomaly.

The FAA has called a 23 May meeting of worldwide civil air regulators to Texas to discuss the FAA's process for clearing the 737 MAX to resume service. Boeing has said a fix is coming soon, but the planes won't be back in the air for several more weeks at the earliest. In his opening statement, he listed what he called multiple errors by pilots and airline maintenance workers in the accidents that he said should be considered along with Boeing's design.

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