Boeing expected to testify at U.S. Senate hearing on aviation safety

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Boeing Co BA.N is expected to testify at an upcoming U.S. Senate Commerce Committee hearing on aviation safety, a spokeswoman for the panel said Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Boeing Co's logo is seen above the front doors of its largest jetliner factory in Everett, Washington, U.S. January 13, 2017. REUTERS/Alwyn Scott/File Photo

The announcement came after the company’s board said on Wednesday it had created a new permanent safety committee to oversee development, manufacturing and operation of its aircraft and services in the aftermath of two fatal 737 MAX crashes.

It was not clear who from Boeing will testify.

Separately, deputy Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Dan Elwell told a U.S. House committee hearing the agency currently was not seeking additional funding for safety efforts, but that could change depending on various reviews.

Both the House and Senate have proposed boosting spending on aviation safety spending but have not reached agreement. Elwell said the FAA was considering creating an innovation office.

Elwell also denied any rift between U.S. and foreign aviation regulators over the 737 MAX. “We have to get it right and we have to get it right globally,” Elwell said.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Roger Wicker, said he was happy to see Boeing had released long-awaited recommendations and looks forward to learning more about the recommendations “and other conclusions Boeing has made at the aviation safety hearing I plan to call very soon.”

Boeing declined to comment Wednesday.

Last week, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee asked Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to testify on Oct. 30 about the grounded 737 MAX involved in two deadly crashes since October 2018 that killed 346 people.

The panel’s chair, Representative Peter DeFazio, also asked John Hamilton, the chief engineer of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division, to testify. Boeing said last week it was studying the invitation.

A spokeswoman for the House panel said Wednesday no response had been received from Boeing.

Earlier this month DeFazio asked Muilenburg to make several employees available for interviews as part of a congressional probe into the design, development and certification of 737 MAX aircraft.

Boeing has said it hopes the plane can resume flights early in the fourth quarter but still has a series of steps to complete before the 737 MAX can return to service, including submitting a pre-production version of a software update, FAA chief Steve Dickson told Reuters last week.

It remains uncertain when Boeing will conduct a certification test flight, a step needed before its best-selling plane can fly again. Dickson said once that flight occurs the FAA will need a month before it can allow flights to resume unless something unforeseen arises.

Some government officials have said they do not believe Boeing will conduct the certification flight until at least mid-October. Asked if there are at least several weeks of work to be done before that flight can occur, Dickson said he thought that was a “fair statement” but did not want to set a specific date.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Lisa Shumaker and Tom Brown