Boeing 737 Max crash: FAA defends handling of aircraft after deadly crashes

Pilots pushed Boeing to act after Lion Air crash Reports

Pilots pushed Boeing to act after Lion Air crash Reports

In the recordings, pilots from American Airlines can be heard grilling a Boeing official over the safety of the planes and the fact that they weren't made aware of the stall-prevention feature that has now been linked to both deadly crashes.

A common link in both crashes was the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System.

It's still unclear what safety information Boeing disclosed to the FAA during the Max approval process, as well as whether FAA officials conducted their own assessments of the system's safety classification.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from OR, the chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said Boeing "has yet to provide a single document" in response to the committee's records requests. The crashes killed a total of 346 people and grounded the 737 Max worldwide.

"The committee's investigation is just getting started, and it will take some time to get answers, but one thing is clear right now: The FAA has a credibility problem", Larsen said in a prepared statement.

The head of the US Federal Aviation Administration has faced another grilling in Congress following revelations that pilots complained to Boeing about the 737 MAX aircraft in the aftermath of a deadly crash previous year.

"As our work continues, I offer this assurance: In the United States, the 737 Max will return to service only when the FAA's analysis of the facts and technical data indicate that it is safe to do so", Elwell told the House aviation subcommittee.

Elwell refuted reports that the FAA wasn't directly involved in approving the plane's flight-control system. But the tragedies are shocking, including for families of victims, he said. After the May 23 meeting, "my hope is that they have the confidence in our work to make their un-grounding as close to ours as possible".

Elwell said the FAA was a "data-driven, risk based system" and acted after it had received sufficient data to link the two crashes.

The highest ranking Republican on the committee, Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, urged caution before blaming Boeing for the accidents.

The FAA has been in the spotlight over how much autonomy it's given to Boeing and the review process it must complete before a plane is deemed safe for public use.

Elwell was scheduled to be joined at the House hearing by Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

With Congress stepping up its investigation into the troubled Boeing 737 Max airliner and how it passed regulatory safety checks, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration is testifying before a House aviation panel. Elwell said he's waiting to see what various investigations and audits have to say.

"It sure looks like this is an issue that was directly related to the 737 Max". It automatically commands a relatively modest dive if it senses a plane's nose has gotten too high. The jetliner was one of its most popular model before the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

- Bloomberg's Todd Shields contributed.