Boeing reshuffles management as Canada and EU heighten 737 Max scrutiny

US orders review of aircraft's certification process, opening a new front in US inquiries into plane's safety

In this Monday, March 11, 2019 file photo, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane being built for TUI Group sits parked in the background at right at Boeing Co.'s Renton Assembly Plant in Renton, Wash. The Transportation Department confirmed that its watchdog agency will examine how the FAA certified the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, the now-grounded plane involved in two fatal accidents within five months. The FAA had stood by the safety of the plane up until last Wednesday, March 13, 2019 despite other countries grounding it.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Canada and Europe said they will seek their own safety assurances of Boeing's grounded 737 Max jet, in yet another hurdle for plans to get the aircraft back to the skies. Meanwhile, the aircraft manufacturer ordered a management reshuffle amid its worst crisis in years.

Canada said it would independently verify the jet's safety rather than rely on validation from the US Federal Aviation Administration and would conduct its own review of the flight control system that is believed to have played a role in two crashes, it said on Tuesday.

The European Union’s aviation safety agency EASA also vowed to undertake its own examination of any design improvements. “We will not allow the aircraft to fly if we have not found acceptable answers to all our questions,” Patrick Ky, EASA's executive director said at an EU Parliament committee hearing.

Boeing declined to comment when contacted by The National.
Increasing international scrutiny comes as the US government ordered a review of the certification process of the 737 Max jet that was involved in crashes of Ethiopian Airlines flight EY 302 on March 10 and Indonesia's Lion Air disaster in October, both killing more than 300 people. The 737 Max family of jets were grounded by the FAA after evidence was found linking the crashes.

Global regulators have grounded the existing fleet of more than 350 Max aircraft while deliveries of nearly 5,000 more, worth more than $500 billion in list prices, are on hold.

The US Department of Transportation has asked for a wide-ranging review of how the government and Boeing certified the 737 Max.

Transportation secretary Elaine Chao requested an audit in a memo to the department’s Inspector General Calvin Scovel on Tuesday. The new audit is separate from the criminal investigation that the Inspector General is also conducting in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.

Amid the unusual inquiries by US regulators and lawmakers, Boeing brought in a new vice president of engineering and dedicated another top executive to the aircraft investigations.

John Hamilton, formerly vice president and chief engineer in Boeing's Commercial Airplanes division, will focus solely on the role of chief engineer, Reuters reported. Lynne Hopper, who previously led test and evaluation in Boeing's Engineering, Test & Technology group, was named vice president of Engineering.

Separately, US President Donald Trump named former Delta Air Lines executive Stephen Dickson to run the FAA. The job has been vacant since Michael Huerta, who had been appointed by former president Barack Obama, stepped down in early 2018 at the end of his five-year term.

Mr Dickson needs senate confirmation before taking over the agency that oversees the aircraft industry and operates the world’s largest air-traffic system. Mr Trump was said to have earlier considered his personal pilot, John Dunkin, for the post.