Clark Questions FAA Officials on Boeing Crashes and Internal Database Oversight

Internal processes for reporting issues and incidents had critical gaps 

October 7, 2019- Washington, D.C. – Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Katherine Clark (MA-5) questioned high-level Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials at an oversight hearing on September 25th about whether or not failure in regulatory oversight contributed to the crash of two Boeing 737 Max airplanes in October 2018 and March 2019.

(Video of hearing is available here: Round 1 & Round 2.)

“There were two critical oversights in the FAA database: a nine month gap between the posting and uploading of real-time data about concerning issues and no provided entry field for the Boeing 737 Max, which led pilots to self-select a variety of airplane models when reporting incidents,” said Congresswoman Clark. “Missteps like these prevent pilots and ground crew from receiving essential, life-saving information in a timely manner. The FAA must ensure that they have an efficient internal process for sharing data, as the current timeline is too lengthy for passenger safety and too late for the 346 lives we lost in the tragic crashes this past year.”

Accurate and timely data are critical to aviation safety and the prevention of loss of lives. Pilots are encouraged to self-report flight incidents to federal government databases which are then analyzed for systemic risks. While the two Boeing 737 Max accidents took place overseas, international regulators typically defer to the FAA for approval of U.S. planes such as the Boeing 737 Max. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development is responsible for allocating resources to the FAA so the agency can effectively carry out its prime safety mission.