FAA trainers under scrutiny in Boeing 737 MAX probe

SEATTLE -- The Federal Aviation Administration is under fire after a whistleblower claims its trainers for the Boeing 737 MAX were not certified.

The United States Office of Special Counsel says the FAA’s failures may have put passengers’ lives at risk.

“It’s another piece of the puzzle here in the MAX crisis that is not good news,” said aviation expert Scott Hamilton.

Thousands of the new aircraft had been ordered by airlines across the globe but the FAA grounded the plane after a pair of jetliners crashed, killing hundreds.

Investigators are looking to see if the two crashes could be blamed on the same automated system.

But there are now new allegations that involve the FAA and how the agency trained new pilots and what it told congress.

Scott Hamilton is an aviation expert and he says the 737 MAX problems could be Boeing’s biggest.

“With everything the regulators have to look at to return the airplane service, this is going to be the most scrutinized airplane in my memory,” he said.

A whistleblower told investigators that the FAA’s own trainers didn’t have adequate training or certification to train max pilots.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel sent a letter to both congress and the president, which reads in part:

“The FAA’s failure to ensure safety inspector competency for these aircraft puts the flying public at risk.”

The special counsel also alleges that the FAA misled a Senate committee when it spoke to the panel.

But an FAA spokesperson told Q13 News the agency stands behind its response to Congress.

“All of the aviation safety inspectors who participated in the evaluation of the Boeing 737 MAX were fully qualified," the FAA told Q13 in a prepared statement.

Boeing declined to comment about the new allegations. The company has hoped to get the plane certified and back in the air early in the fourth quarter – but it can’t do that until federal regulators give them the green light. It also must seek foreign regulatory approval.

Hamilton believes Boeing will be hurt by the scandals but will eventually be able to recover.

“The 737 crisis was a real one, it was harmful, it was damaging, but it was only a fraction of what we’re seeing today and that’s why it’s going to be much more difficult and more lengthy for Boeing to work its way out of this one,” said Hamilton.