09:13 GMT28 January 2021
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    United Airlines announced on Friday that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 would be returning to the skies beginning February 11, 2021. The aircraft was grounded worldwide in March 2019 following the twin crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

    A 18 December report published by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation revealed that employees of both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) worked together to manipulate recertification tests of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 following two fatal crashes that together killed a 346. 

    The 102-page report, which comes some 20 months after the aircraft was grounded, detailed that Boeing “inappropriately influenced FAA human factor simulator testing of pilot reaction times involving a Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) failure."

    The MCAS serves as a flight control system designed to enhance the Boeing 737 MAX's pitch stability so that it feels and flies like other 737s. 

    “Twenty months ago, the Commerce Committee launched an investigation into FAA safety oversight. We have received disclosures from more than 50 whistleblowers, conducted numerous FAA staff interviews, and reviewed over 15,000 pages of relevant documents,” Rep. Roger Wicker (R-MS), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, wrote in his news release

    “Our findings are troubling. The report details a number of significant examples of lapses in aviation safety oversight and failed leadership in the FAA. It is clear that the agency requires consistent oversight to ensure their work to protect the flying public is executed fully and correctly." 

    The Senate committee also alleged that senior FAA managers have yet to be appropriately reprimanded or held accountable for the "failure to develop and deliver adequate training in flight standards, despite repeated findings of deficiencies over several decades." 

    In addition, senior FAA leadership may have obstructed a review of the 737 MAX 8 crashes initiated by Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General. 

    “FAA and Boeing were attempting to cover up important information that may have contributed to the 737 MAX tragedies," the report alleges. 

    On Friday, it was reported by United Airlines that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 will resume flights out of its Denver, Colorado, and Houston, Texas, facilities. Other aircraft will reportedly be made available for those travelers uneasy about boarding the ill-starred aircraft. 

    “We will be fully transparent with our customers and will communicate in advance when they are booked to fly on a Max aircraft," United Airlines wrote in a Friday news release. 


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