The head of the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) acknowledged on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, that the agency and Boeing made mistakes that led to the crashing of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that killed 157 people.
The testimony came from Steve Dickson head of Federal Aviation Administration Administrator, as the United States Senate held a hearing on examining the agency’s process of certifying aircraft in Washington, D.C.
“The manufacturer made mistakes and the FAA made mistakes in its oversight. The full implications of the flight control system were not understood as design changes were made,” said Dikson.
Members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation questioned the FAA Administrator and grilled Dickson the head of the United States government’s aviation regulatory body that approved the 737 Max safe for flight.
The 737 Max was grounded internationally in 2019 after two crashes occurred over the span of about six months.
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed on March 10, 2019, in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, about 6 minutes after takeoff. The crash killed all people on board who were en route from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya.
Few months before Lion Air Flight 610 had crashed into the Java Sea on Oct. 29, 2018, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board. The plane was en route from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang — both in Indonesia.
Aviation investigators linked both crashes to a malfunction of the planes’ Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which can affect pitch in an aircraft. When pilots attempted to respond to the system, it caused them to nose dive.
While the majority of the blame went to manufacturers of the planes, Boeing, the FAA was also seen responsible as it certified the planes for flight.
“The fact of the matter is that the FAA has been complicit in these crashes by failing to do more diligent oversight,” one of the senators said during the hearing.
The senator added that the FAA should do more of the work of evaluating aircraft instead of simply overseeing as manufacturers conduct tests.
As the head of FAA testified, an attendee raised a sign behind him featuring photos of crash victims.
Michael Stumo, Father of Samya Rose Stumo, a Victim of Ethiopian Airlines Flight T302 also testified at the hearing. “They gambled, we lost,” said the grieving father.
In addition, a new bill is in the making in the house of senates to reform the Federal Aviation Administration’s aircraft certification process.
While reforms are being taken at the FAA legal battles are undergoing against Boeing by the families of the victims.