The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s Aviation and Space Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing on federal oversight of commercial aviation for 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 27.
“In light of the recent tragedy in Ethiopia and the subsequent grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, this hearing will examine challenges to the state of commercial aviation safety, including any specific concerns highlighted by recent accidents,” the committee said in a news release.
Witnesses scheduled to testify include Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board; Daniel Elwell, acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); and Calvin Scovel, inspector general of the Department of Transportation.
The committee said it intends to hold a second hearing on aviation safety in the near future to hear from industry stakeholders, including Boeing, other manufacturers, airline pilots and other stakeholders.
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 10. All 157 passengers and crew were killed. Lion Air Flight 610, also operated with a MAX 8, crashed into the Java Sea on Oct. 29, killing 189 passengers and crew. FAA grounded MAX 8 and MAX 9 airplanes on March 13.
Earlier this week, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao ordered Scovel’s office to conduct an audit of the MAX 8 certification process.
Also this week, FAA issued another continued airworthiness notification to the international community (CANIC) providing an update on safety matters related to the MAX fleet.
In an earlier CANIC, FAA provided information regarding Boeing’s development of flight control system changes to address the Lion Air accident. In this week’s CANIC, FAA said it “is aware that Boeing is developing a service bulletin that would specify the installation of new flight control computer operational program software. Boeing has also developed flight crew training related to this software. The FAA’s ongoing review of this software installation and training is an agency priority, as will be the roll-out of any software, training or other measures to operators of the 737 MAX.”