Relatives of victims of one of the plane crashes involving Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX argued Tuesday that the plane is still unsafe as federal regulators near clearing the jet to return to service after 20 months.
The Federal Aviation Administration has telegraphed that a decision to re-certify the jet is coming as soon as Wednesday. The agency has already released proposed software upgrades and fixes to the plane, and plans for revised pilot training.
Michael Stumo, father of Samya Rose Stumo, who died in the March 2019 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, said in a teleconference with reporters that the agency is keeping families of crash victims in the dark about why it believes the 737 MAX is now safe to fly.
“They say trust us, just like before,” Stumo said. “They don’t meet with us, they meet with each other. And we cannot trust this plane.”
The FAA and Boeing have already faced multiple reviews of their actions by lawmakers, government watchdogs, crash investigators and outside experts. In response to similar charges leveled against the agency last week, the FAA issued a statement defending its actions.
“The FAA’s process during the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX has been transparent to an unprecedented degree,” the agency said.
The 737 MAX, which was Boeing’s best-selling jet, was grounded on March 13, 2019, after the second fatal crash linked to a flight-control system. The first accident involved a Lion Air jet on Oct. 29, 2018, near Indonesia. The crashes killed 346 people.
Naoise Ryan, wife of Mick Ryan, who died in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, said a decision by the FAA to re-certify the 737 Max would not be enough to convince her the plane is safe now.
“We want answers as to why the crash happened and also we want answers as to exactly what they’ve done to make sure this never happens again,” she said. “Based on the lack of transparency alone, I would not want a family member to board one of these planes.”
A decision by the FAA to end the longest jetliner grounding in U.S. history would mark a major milestone for Boeing’s effort to revive the core of its commercial-aircraft business.
The reversal would occur as the coronavirus pandemic has flattened demand for air travel, and by extension the sale of new planes. The U.S. planemaker faces an arduous recovery as it seeks to reap cash by delivering hundreds of Max aircraft built during the flying ban.
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