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Democratic senators call Boeing 737 Max ungrounding a 'premature leap of faith'

Democratic senators call Boeing 737 Max ungrounding a 'premature leap of faith'
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Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally MORE (D-Mass.) are calling the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) ungrounding of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft a “premature leap of faith.” 

“Allowing these planes to fly again is a premature leap of faith,” the senators, who are members of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety, said in a statement on Wednesday. “The FAA’s directive to unground 737 MAX aircraft fails to address the larger systemic issues at Boeing and the FAA that led to the deaths of 346 people.” 

The senators added that there are “major outstanding concerns” about the FAA’s review, adding that “the lax oversight that in effect let Boeing self-certify the safety of the aircraft remains in place.”

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Blumenthal and Markey have previously criticized the FAA and have introduced oversight legislation that would cover the aviation industry.

The FAA announced earlier Wednesday that the aircraft had been cleared to return to service nearly two years after a pair of deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed a total of 346 people. Investigations found that an anti-stalling system was activated in both cases due to inaccurate sensor readings. Pilots were not briefed on the system, and a House investigation found that the deaths were “preventable,” citing regulatory, management and design failures. 

The FAA said that its review included “an unprecedented level of collaborative and independent reviews” by global authorities.

The regulators said Boeing’s design changes, along with changes to crew procedures and training enhancements, gave them “the confidence to validate the aircraft as safe to fly in their respective countries and regions.”

“Throughout our transparent process, we cooperated closely with our foreign counterparts on every aspect of the return to service,” the FAA said. “Additionally, Administrator [Steve] Dickson personally took the recommended pilot training and piloted the Boeing 737 MAX, so he could experience the handling of the aircraft firsthand.”