House panel to hold July 17 hearing on aviation safety

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. House of Representatives panel will hold a hearing next week on aviation safety in the aftermath of two deadly Boeing Co 737 MAX crashes since October.

The July 17 hearing by the House Transportation Committee’s subcommittee on aviation will include Paul Njoroge, who lost his wife, three children and his mother-in-law on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that crashed in March, the committee told Reuters.

Witnesses scheduled to testify include Dana Schulze, acting director of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Office of Aviation Safety, and officials from the Air Line Pilots Association, Association of Professional Flight Attendants, Professional Aviation Specialists and Transport Workers Union.

A committee official said the hearing will cover the overall state of aviation safety, including airports, runways, aircraft certification, and new entrants.

Boeing did not immediately comment on the hearing.

Boeing is expected to formally submit its proposed software upgrade and training revisions to the Federal Aviation Administration in September after a separate software flaw emerged last month.

The 737 MAX is unlikely to resume flying before November because of the time needed for the FAA to review the fix and for airlines to update their planes and complete pilot training.

Boeing’s update to its software, known as MCAS, which would stop erroneous data from triggering an anti-stall system that automatically turned down the noses of the two planes that crashed, despite pilot efforts to stop it.

Congress has held other hearings since the Boeing crashes with the FAA and other officials but have not yet called Boeing executives to testify.

Southwest Airlines Co, United Airlines and American Airlines have canceled thousands of flights into September and October because of the grounding that began in March.

Federal prosecutors aided by the FBI, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Transportation Department’s inspector general, congressional panels and a number of independent committees are reviewing the 737 MAX’s certification and broader certification questions. Some in Congress have criticized the long-standing FAA practice of designating some certification tasks to Boeing or other aircraft manufacturers.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Richard Chang

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