(AP) — A panel of international aviation regulators found that Boeing withheld key information about its 737 Max from pilots and regulators, and the Federal Aviation Administration lacked the expertise to understand the automated flight system implicated in two deadly crashes of the jets.
In its report issued Friday, the panel made 12 recommendations for improving the FAA’s certification of new aircraft, including more emphasis on understanding how pilots will handle the increasing amount of automation driving modern planes.
The report, called a joint authorities technical review, focused on FAA approval of a new flight-control system called MCAS that automatically pushed the noses of Max jets down — based on faulty readings from a single sensor — before crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.
During the certification process, Boeing changed the design of MCAS, making it more powerful, but key people at the FAA were not always told.
MCAS evolved “from a relatively benign system to a not-so-benign system without adequate knowledge by the FAA,” the panel’s chief, former National Transportation Safety Board chairman Christopher Hart, said. He faulted poor communication but said there was no indication of intentional wrongdoing.
The Max has been grounded since March. The five-month international review was separate from the FAA’s consideration of whether to recertify the plane once Boeing finishes updates to software and computers on the plane.
Boeing hopes to win FAA approval before the year’s end, although several previous Boeing forecasts have turned out to be wrong.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement that the agency would review all recommendations from the panel and take appropriate action.
“We welcome this scrutiny and are confident that our openness to these efforts will further bolster aviation safety worldwide,” Dickson said.
Boeing said it would work with the FAA to review the panel’s recommendations and “continuously improve the process and approach used to validate and certify airplanes going forward.”
The international panel included members from U.S. agencies and aviation regulators from Europe, China, Brazil, Canada and other countries.