Boeing CEO asked to testify on grounded 737 Max by US House committee
US House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure invites Dennis Muilenburg to hearing on Oct. 30
The head of the US House committee overseeing aviation asked Boeing's chief executive Dennis Muilenburg and its chief engineer of commercial planes to testify at a hearing on the grounded 737 Max jet.
Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, invited Mr Muilenburg and chief engineer John Hamilton to the hearing on October 30, the committee said in a statement on its website late Tuesday.
“Boeing has received the committee’s invitation and is reviewing it now," the company said in a statement. "We will continue to cooperate with Congress and regulatory authorities as we focus on safely returning the Max to service."
Boeing is facing several probes by lawmakers, aviation regulators and the US Department of Justice into the certification process of its best-selling jet. The model was grounded globally in March after it was involved in two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia within a span of five months that killed 346 people. The hearing falls one day after the one-year anniversary of Indonesia's Lion Air crash in October 2018.
Last week, the committee sent a formal request to Mr Muilenburg to make several Boeing employees available for interviews with committee staff, according to its statement.
At the time, Boeing issued a statement criticizing the lawmakers’ release.
“We’re deeply disappointed the committee chose to release private correspondence given our extensive cooperation to date,” the company said. “We will continue to be transparent and responsive to the committee.”
Boeing has spent months working on a software fix for the critical flight control system that was linked to the two crashes. It estimates that the Max will be approved to return to service early in the fourth quarter.
However earlier this month, Mr Muilenburg said the Max may return to the skies on a "phased" schedule if global aviation regulators approve the jet for commercial flights on their own timetable rather than follow US guidelines.
Regulators in Europe, China, Canada and the UAE have said they will conduct their own assessment of the aircraft's airworthiness.
A rift between the US Federal Aviation Administration and its global peers on the measures required to approve the Max highlights the erosion of the US agency’s status as the leading body certifying new aircraft.
The majority of US airlines have canceled flights into December because of the 737 Max grounding, including American Airlines and United Airlines, while Southwest Airlines has canceled flights into early January.
Once the Max is approved to fly again, airlines will have to install the new software, run maintenance checks on the grounded jets and implement the recommended pilot training. The single-aisle jet is the workhorse of carriers especially low cost airlines and competes with Airbus' narrowbody A320 series.
Updated: September 18, 2019 02:00 PM