Boeing withdraws safety exemption request needed for new model certification

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Boeing is withdrawing a request for a safety exemption required for a new model of a 737 Max plane, after facing criticism when a door plug blew off a plane earlier this month.

Last year, the aircraft manufacturer asked federal regulators to allow the company to begin delivering its 737 Max 7 aircraft to customers, even though it did not meet a safety standard that would prevent part of the engine housing from overheating and breaking off mid-flight, The Associated Press reported.

After the door panel blew off a Max 9 flight on Jan. 5 and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered the grounding of nearly 200 planes of the same type, Boeing’s commitment to safety has been under the microscope.

Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), chair of the subcommittee on aviation safety, asked the FAA to deny Boeing’s request last week.

“Boeing keeps offering assurances that it won’t put profits ahead of passenger safety, but the company’s actions speak louder than its words,” Duckworth, who is a pilot, said in a statement.

“If Boeing really wants to demonstrate that safety is a priority, the company can prove it by withdrawing its petition seeking permission from the FAA to bypass safety standards and rush even more aircraft into the air with a known safety defect,” she added.

Just days after the senators’ appeal, Boeing announced Monday that it would withdraw its request.

“While we are confident that the proposed time-limited exemption for that system follows established FAA processes to ensure safe operation, we will instead incorporate an engineering solution that will be completed during the certification process,” the company said in an emailed statement.

“As always, the FAA will determine the timing of certification and we will follow their lead every step of the way,” they continued. “We’re committed to being transparent, listening to all our stakeholders and taking action to strengthen safety and quality at Boeing.”

The Hill has reached out to the FAA for comment.

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