NEXTSTAR (WASHINGTON) — Several Senators on both sides of the aisle have called for the Federal Aviation Administration to cooperate with their effort to fix the agency’s safety certification process.
Lawmakers held a tense hearing Wednesday with both parties accusing the FAA of stonewalling over the safety failures that led to the deadly crashes and grounding of the Boeing 737 Max jets.
A 737 MAX 8 operated by Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea in October of 2018, killing all 189 on board. Less than six months later, the same model plane operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed six minutes after takeoff in Ethiopia killing all 157 on board.
As a result, all 737 MAX jets were grounded worldwide in March of 2019.
Members of the victims families were in attendance at Wednesday’s hearing while lawmakers like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) attacked the FAA for ducking responsibility for the disastrous events. Cruz asked FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson point blank if the agency made a mistake in certifying the 737 MAX. When Dickson replied, “There were mistakes made, yes,” Cruz was not satisfied.
“Who made the mistakes and why?” Cruz demanded. “Don’t speak in a passive voice.”
Only four of the 21 FAA employees have been made available for interviews by the agency, according to several Senators. However, Dickson denied the FAA is being uncooperative.
“I’m totally committed to the oversight process,” he said.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan piece of legislation was introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) that aims to enact overall safety reforms at the FAA.
“Safety has to be paramount,” said. Cantwell. “And, the FAA has to be independent.”
Lawmakers and families of the victims both expressed that the FAA needs to focus on aircraft safety above all else to save lives in the future.