Lawmakers seek FAA employee survey records after Boeing 737 MAX crashes


By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, July 20 (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Monday asked the Federal Aviation Administration to disclose details of an employee survey about the agency’s safety culture after two fatal crashes of Boeing 737 MAX airplanes killed 346 people and raised questions about the agency's actions.

Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Representative Rick Larsen, who chairs a subcommittee on aviation, wrote FAA Administrator Steve Dickson about a survey that included an FAA program that delegates some new airplane certification tasks to Boeing BA.N employees.

"It is essential that FAA officials have the authority, resources, willingness and support from FAA’s senior management to thoroughly and aggressively manage the ODA program,” they said, referring to Organization Designation Authorization. An FAA spokesman said the agency would respond to the lawmakers.

The letter, seen by Reuters, noted that the panel's investigation has already determined that issues surrounding the ODA "played key contributing roles in the regrettable 737 MAX crashes of Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 that resulted in the preventable deaths of 346 individuals."

The letter referenced a Transportation Department Office of Inspector General report that noted the FAA sent two letters of investigation to Boeing in June 2019 and March 2020 "related to potential undue pressure of unit members."

The lawmakers encouraged the FAA "to vigorously pursue these investigations and to hold Boeing to account for any violations of FAA’s regulations or U.S. law."

Boeing did not immediately comment.

Last month, a group of U.S. senators introduced legislation to strengthen FAA oversight of aircraft certification. DeFazio plans to introduce legislation to reform ODA in September.

The Senate measure seeks to eliminate the ability of aircraft makers to unduly influence the certification process. It marks the most significant step toward reforms following the crashes, which resulted in Boeing's 737 MAX being grounded since March 2019.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)

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