By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON -Two U.S. lawmakers asked the Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General to review the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight over Boeing Co’s actions surrounding the 737 MAX jet.
The chair of the House of Representatives Transportation Committee, Peter DeFazio, and Rick Larsen, who chairs a subcommittee on aviation, said the request came after the FAA failed to provide an adequate response to a November letter seeking answers about Boeing actions before two Boeing 737 MAX crashes in five months that killed 346 people and led to the plane’s 20-month grounding.
Boeing declined to comment. The FAA did not immediately comment.
Boeing agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department in January 2021, including the payment of $2.5 billion in fines and compensation stemming from the 737 MAX crashes. Last week, the Justice Department defended the agreement over objections from some victims’ relatives.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a Jan. 24 letter made public Tuesday that because of the Justice Department investigation and work by other reviews, the “FAA did not pursue investigations or actions against individuals within the Boeing Company.”
The lawmakers in November had asked the FAA what it had done, if anything, to hold Boeing employees responsible for actions in connection with the MAX.
In October, a former Boeing chief technical pilot was charged with fraud for allegedly deceiving federal regulators evaluating the company’s 737 MAX jet. The pilot has pleaded not guilty.
DeFazio has questioned the focus on a single technical pilot, saying in October, “Senior leaders throughout Boeing are responsible for the culture of concealment that ultimately led to the 737 MAX crashes and the death of 346 innocent people.”
The lawmakers cited Boeing’s apparent violation of its approved 737 MAX type design, as well as evidence of an internal plan to downplay the significance of a key safety system called MCAS tied to both fatal crashes.
The FAA is currently scrutinizing a number of issues involving Boeing airplanes.
(Reporting by David ShepardsonEditing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)