Everett Rep. Larsen: Boeing workers ‘deserve answers, too’

The House member released in advance his opening remarks for Boeing’s committee testimony on Wednesday.

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee was scheduled to hear testimony from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg on Wednesday. (Muilenburg also testified Tuesday before a Senate committee.) U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, chairs the Transportation subcommittee on aviation and is expected to be a key questioner Wednesday because he represents the district that is home to Boeing’s biggest factory, in Everett.

On Tuesday, Larsen released his opening remarks and recorded them “because I want to save time at the committee hearing for something more important: questions for Boeing.” Here is his opening statement, and above is his video.

“Hello, I am U.S. Representative Rick Larsen, Chair of the House Aviation Subcommittee.

“The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will soon hear testimony for the first time from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg about the two tragic crashes of Boeing 737 MAX airplanes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

“I am taking the unusual step of recording my opening statement because I want to save time at the Committee hearing for something more important: questions for Boeing.

“One year ago, on October 29, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea, and less than six months later, on March 10, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed near Addis Ababa. These two tragedies ended the lives of 346 people.

“Families and loved ones of the victims of these crashes rightfully expect Congress to act.

“Some family members are attending the hearing and their presence and tireless advocacy is an important reminder of why the Committee must continue our thorough oversight work.

“My sincerest condolences to them and all those affected during this difficult time. You deserve answers, and I am committed to using all tools at my disposal to get them.

“I also want to highlight what I hear at home in Washington state.

“In the Pacific Northwest, aviation and aerospace are ingrained in our DNA.

“I represent many of the dedicated women and men who go to work each day at the Boeing plant in Everett. These are hardworking individuals who punch the clock and contribute to our local communities. They are proud of the product they design, assemble and build.

“But they are also distraught that this same product contributed to the deaths of so many and the immeasurable grief of many others.

“I feel that they deserve answers, too.

“With this hearing, the Committee reaches a new stage in its investigation. For the first time, we will hear directly from the Boeing Company.

“CEO Dennis Muilenburg and Chief Engineer John Hamilton will testify and answer questions about the role their leadership and employees played in the design and certification of the 737 MAX; development of MCAS, a feature of the aircraft flight control system; and decisions which led to major discrepancies in communications with pilots, including MCAS not being included in training documents.

“I also expect to hear answers on why information that Boeing employees developed about the testing of the MCAS did not seem to be considered in the certification process, and how Boeing interacted with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“I believe we are headed toward necessary reforms in how the FAA will certify commercial airplanes and parts in the future.

“Consider this: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently recommended changes to how U.S. manufacturers design and develop airplanes, and how the FAA oversees and approves them.

“The Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) panel has also recommended changes to how airplanes are designed, developed and certified, as well as ways to improve communications with international partners.

“The Boeing Company itself has reorganized its own safety organization to address shortcomings which contributed to the two crashes.

“And just last week, the Indonesian Aircraft Accident Investigation authorities published its findings, conclusions and recommendations, many of which get right to the heart of key issues with the 737 MAX.

“I see an undeniable conclusion to which these four sets of recommendations point: The process by which the FAA evaluates and certifies aircraft is itself in need of repair.

“The goal of the Committee’s investigation has been clear from the start: find the facts that led to these tragedies, reform the system that allowed them to happen and improve the safety of the flying public.

“The 346 lives lost in the Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian Airlines 302 crashes are constant reminders of the importance of the Committee’s work and what is at stake if we do not address the systemic safety issues in U.S. aviation today.

“Though there will be a variety of factors that contributed to the untimely end of these flights, none of the passengers in the cabin had anything to do with them.

“They bought their tickets, boarded the planes and expected to land safely at their destinations to see their loved ones, go to work and school or spend time on vacation.

“They did not expect these flights to be their last — nor should they have been.

“The United States is the leader in global aviation, and this Committee’s efforts, along with the FAA and Boeing’s actions in the U.S. have profound implications for air travel around the world.

“It is no accident there are few airplane accidents. It makes it all the more tragic when there is one, and even worse when there are two.

“As the Committee’s investigation continues, we will maintain safety as our guiding principle and use all the tools at our disposal to ensure the safety of the traveling public.

“Thank you.”

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