Aviation

Lawmakers: Southwest flying 49 jets that don’t meet FAA standards
Paperwork to assure safety was overlooked in planes airline bought overseas

A Southwest Airlines jet parked at Boeing's Renton, Wash., factory. (Photo by Gary He/Getty Images)

Southwest Airlines is flying 49 aircraft despite concerns that they do not comply with mandatory federal safety standards, according to documents released by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

At issue are 88 Southwest Airlines Boeing 737s previously operated by 16 different foreign air carriers between 2013 and 2017. None of the aircraft are the 737 Max model, which has been grounded by the FAA after two fatal crashes.

Photos of the Week: Halloween and impeachment collide
The week of Nov. 1 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., walks by a protester outside the Capitol after the House voted on its resolution outlining the next steps in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boeing CEO grilled over 737 crashes

Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing, arrives to testify before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing in Hart Building on aviation safety and the future of the Boeing 737 MAX on Tuesday, October 29, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boeing President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Tuesday.

Boeing chief at Senate 737 Max hearing: ‘We made mistakes’
Senators question whether Boeing held back key information and whether its culture contributed to unsafe aircraft

Nadia Milleron, whose daughter Samya Stumo was killed in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, holds a sign with victims of the crash Tuesday behind Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, foreground, during the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on aviation safety and the future of the Boeing 737 MAX. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As he prepares for Wednesday’s oversight hearing with the embattled Boeing CEO, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter A. DeFazio must sort through a corporate culture that he believes compromised safety and find out what, if any, legislative remedies there are to be had.

The crash of two Boeing 737 Max aircraft over the past year — Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March — took the lives of 346 people and profoundly wounded the reputation and bottom line for the Chicago-based aircraft maker. The aircraft has been grounded in the U.S. since March.

As NDAA talks drag on, Inhofe readies pared-down bill
Negotiators have largely stayed mum on unresolved conference issues

Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe, left, and ranking member Sen. Jack Reed before the start of a confirmation hearing on July 31, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Report: Underground hackers and spies helped China steal jet secrets
Crowdstrike researchers reveal Beijing’s efforts to boost its own domestic aircraft industry

The Airbus 320, pictured here, and Boeing’s 737 are air passenger workhorses and would be competitors to Comac's C919. (Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Chinese government hackers working with the country’s traditional spies and agencies plotted and stole U.S. and European aircraft engine secrets to help Beijing leapfrog over its Western competitors in developing a domestic commercial aircraft industry, according to researchers at the cybersecurity protection firm CrowdStrike. 

“Beijing used a mixture of cyber actors sourced from China’s underground hacking scene, Ministry of State Security or MSS officers, company insiders, and state directives to fill key technology and intelligence gaps in a bid to bolster dual-use turbine engines which could be used for both energy generation and to enable its narrow-body twinjet airliner, the C919, to compete against Western aerospace firms,” CrowdStrike said in a report released Monday evening. 

Probe faults Boeing over 737 Max details given to FAA before certification
Multinational review follows two crashes that killed 346 people

Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are seen parked on Boeing property along the Duwamish River near Boeing Field in August in Seattle, Washington. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

Boeing did not adequately brief regulators about the flight control system blamed for two crashes of its 737 Max aircraft that killed a total of 346 people, according to a multinational task force that reviewed the plane’s certification process.

In a report released Friday, the Joint Authorities Technical Review, a panel chartered by the Federal Aviation Administration that included aviation regulators from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe and other countries as well as representatives from the FAA and NASA, found that increasingly complex aircraft systems have certification requirements that the FAA has yet to match.

Air ambulance services face scrutiny over surprise billing issues
Outrage over surprise medical bills has pushed issue near top of political health care agenda

More than two-thirds of air ambulance rides in 2017 were out of the patient’s insurance network, according to a March General Accounting Office report. (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images file photo)

Patients whisked or transferred to hospitals by air ambulances face time-sensitive emergencies — from strokes to traumatic accidents — so whether the helicopter carrying them is in their insurance network isn’t usually a top-priority question.

Weeks later, many of these patients receive an unpleasant surprise: a bill demanding tens of thousands of dollars.

Appropriators seek clarity on aircraft inspector qualifications
Lawmakers asked FAA response to findings that safety inspectors lacked training to certify 737 Max pilots

Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are seen parked on Boeing property along the Duwamish River near Boeing Field on August 13, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

Top Senate appropriators pressed the Federal Aviation Administration chief to respond after a federal investigator found that safety inspectors lacked sufficient training to certify Boeing 737 Max pilots.

Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Jack Reed, D-R.I., the chairwoman and ranking member of the Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, asked FAA chief Steve Dickson in a letter Tuesday provide more information about the U.S. Office of Special Counsel’s report and the FAA’s response to it.

FAA misled Congress on inspector training, federal investigator finds
FAA appears to have misled Congress in its responses to questions about employee training and competency, an inspector’s letter said

Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are seen after leaving the assembly line at a Boeing facility on August 13, 2019 in Renton, Washington. A federal investigator has released a new letter that says the FAA appears to have misled Congress in its responses to questions about employee training and competency. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

The FAA appears to have misled Congress in its responses to questions about employee training and competency leading up to grounding of 737 Max jets in March, according to a federal investigator.  

Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner, in a letter Monday to President Donald Trump, said Federal Aviation Administration safety inspectors “lacked proper training and accreditation” to certify pilots, including those flying the Boeing 737 Max, putting air travelers at risk.