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FAA review cited high risk of Boeing 737 Max crashes: report

FAA review cited high risk of Boeing 737 Max crashes: report
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A U.S. government review last year reportedly found that the Boeing 737 Max had a high risk of crashes, but regulators allowed the planes to remain in the air.

The Wall Street Journal, citing industry officials and regulators, reported Wednesday that a November 2018 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) analysis, which followed a fatal crash of the aircraft in Indonesia, said that the 737 Max could have averaged one crash every two to three years. 

The assessment was expected to be released during a House committee hearing later Wednesday. 

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"It was clear from the beginning that an unsafe condition existed," an FAA spokesperson told the Journal on Tuesday, noting that the analysis “provided additional context in helping determine the
mitigation action.”

The spokesperson also said that such analyses tend to overstate risks. 

The FAA also said in a statement that it issued an emergency directive in November 2018 reminding pilots about procedures "to promptly correct runaway stabilizer trim" based on the results of an assessment.

"The FAA acted immediately to ground the aircraft on March 13 after verifying the satellite data, which was reinforced by evidence from the crash site," the agency statement added, referring to a separate Boeing 737 Max crash in March of this year.

Boeing, meanwhile, said the FAA's Corrective Action Review Board found that the FAA and Boeing's actions in November 2018 to issue the directive and an operations manual bulletin "sufficed to allow continued operation of the MAX fleet until changes to the [Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS)] software could be implemented."

"The actions that Boeing and the FAA took, including the issuance of the Operations Manual Bulletin and Airworthiness Directive and the timeline for implementing the MCAS enhancements, were fully consistent with the FAA’s analysis and established process," the company said in a statement.

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According to the Journal, the analysis predicted up to 15 similar incidents over about 30 to 45 years unless changes were made. 

An analysis by the newspaper found that the projected crash total was about the same as all fatal passenger crashes over the past three decades.

Last year, 189 people were killed in a 737 Max crash in Indonesia and 157 were killed in a crash in Ethiopia this year.

The planes have been grounded worldwide following the incidents.

--Updated at 12:12 p.m.