FAA approval process relies on Boeing, other manufacturers to self-police

FAA approval relies on Boeing to self-police

After finding similarities in two deadly crashes in less than five months, federal investigators are looking into how the FAA approved Boeing's 737 Max jet. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg offered his condolences to victims of recent crashes involving the company's Max 8 planes in a video released Monday night, reiterating his company's commitment to safety, reports CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave.

"When an accident happens for any reason, we focus relentlessly to determine why," Muilenburg said.
 
He insisted the company's planes are safe. In addition to a new software update, CBS News has also learned that Boeing will update its training requirements for the 737 Max.

The software update is meant to address the partial failure of the anti-stall systems believed to be behind the first deadly crash involving the Max: Lion Air Flight 610 in October. While investigators continue to analyze the data from the Ethiopian Airlines crash last week, they say the similarities are clear.

But questions remain about the relationship between Boeing and the FAA. Federal authorities have told employees at Boeing and the FAA to retain documents relating to the plane's approval process, which by design relies on manufacturers like Boeing to self-police that it's met FAA requirements.
 
Scott Brenner, a former associate administrator at the FAA, said the FAA does not have the resources to certify aircraft without the help of the manufacturer.

"On some level, the FAA is taking Boeing's word for a lot of this," Van Cleave pointed out.

"They are taking Boeing's word, but they – Boeing is also presenting data to prove their word," Brenner said.
 
As far back as 1993, the government accountability office warned "FAA's certification staff were falling far behind industry in technical competency" in part because of delegating to manufacturers.

"We need to wake up the regulators and we need to put aviation safety first," former NTSB chairman James Hall said.

The FAA is expected to approve Boeing's software fix for the 737 Max airliner by Monday. But it's not clear if the software fix will be enough to get the grounded planes back into the air.

Capt. Dennis Tajer, who has flown one for American Airlines, said pilots want to be involved in the training.

"We want our experts in whatever simulator you can find so that we and our pilots can feel confident that we have all the information," Tajer said.