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Boeing C.E.O. Knew About Pilot’s Warnings Before Second Crash


“You’re the C.E.O., the buck stops with you,” said Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, adding, “How did you not in February set out a nine-alarm fire to say ‘we need to figure out exactly what happened,’ not after all the hearings, not after the pressure but because 346 people have died and we don’t want another person to die?”

Mr. Muilenburg, who appeared alongside Boeing’s chief engineer, John Hamilton, remained stoic as lawmakers took turns jabbing at the company and its signature airplane. The senators pressed Mr. Muilenburg to account for seemingly lax oversight by the F.A.A., haranguing him about the close relationship between the aerospace giant and its regulator.

In a report released this month, Indonesian investigators said that errors by the flight and maintenance crew contributed to the crash. But they blamed Boeing for designing a system that triggered repeatedly based on a single sensor and failing to notify pilots that it existed. A task force of nine international regulators said in a separate report that Boeing never fully explained the system to regulators, who relied heavily on the company to help certify the plane and did not have the expertise in place to adequately assess the information it did receive.

An earlier investigation, by the National Transportation Safety Board, found that the company had underestimated the effect that a malfunction of MCAS would have on the cockpit, wrongly assuming that pilots would immediately counteract an erroneous firing.

As the 737 Max was developed, Boeing employees working on behalf of the F.A.A., not government inspectors, signed off on many aspects of the plane. This system of so-called delegation, which lets manufacturers approve their own work, is now under scrutiny.

Boeing employees in its Seattle-area and Charleston, S.C., plants have said they sometimes felt pressure to meet deadlines while conducting safety approvals. Investigations by The New York Times have revealed that key F.A.A. officials didn’t fully understand MCAS and that the regulator at times deferred to the company, making decisions based on how much they would cost Boeing and its production schedule.


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