The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration had insufficient personnel to oversee the certification of new Boeing airplanes and should make significant reforms in how it approves new aircraft, an worldwide aviation panel said Friday.
The FAA thanked the panel for its "unvarnished" report. In the same release, Muilenburg emphasized that the company is "laser-focused" on returning to service the 737 Max jetliner, which was grounded by regulators worldwide after two deadly crashes killed 356 people.
Boeing Co. stripped Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg of his role as chairman of the board, saying the move would enable him to focus on guiding the company out of the crisis engulfing its grounded 737 Max jetliner.
According to the report, the FAA had been made aware of MCAS, though "the information and discussions about MCAS were so fragmented and were delivered to disconnected groups" that it 'was hard to recognize the impacts and implications of this system'.
The FAA appointed the JATR in April to independently evaluate the design and certification processes for the 737 Max.
The FAA expects to receive the findings and recommendations from the Joint Authorities Technical Review panel on Friday.
But the problem remains: if certification depends on Boeing marking its own homework, how can the FAA be sure it's doing the job properly?
While the outlet describes the report's scope as "narrow", the task force was able to review the certification of the 737 MAX's automated system, known as MCAS, which had a key role in the fatal Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines flights in October 2018 and March this year, respectively.
The review also found "signs of undue pressure" on Boeing employees performing tasks for the FAA, "which may be attributed to conflicting priorities and an environment that does not support FAA requirements".
"With adequate FAA engagement and oversight, the extent of delegation does not in itself compromise safety", the report said.
The panel included members from US agencies, and aviation regulators from Europe and eight foreign countries including Canada and China.
In a series of recommendations, the JATR urged the FAA to update its regulations, enhance its engineering expertise and to conduct more sweeping safety assessments that examine unintended consequences of high-technology designs.
The company is also facing more than 100 lawsuits over the crashes alleging design flaws allowed erroneous sensor data to set off an automated anti-stall system and overwhelm pilots. It has said it is revising the plane's software to improve safeguards.