Mar 20, 2019

Senate joins probes into Boeing 737 MAX

(Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Sen. Ted Cruz will hold a Commerce subcommittee hearing next Wednesday examining the U.S. government's oversight of the Boeing 737 MAX, which has suffered two fatal crashes since October, leading to the grounding of the global fleet.

Between the lines: Cruz, who chairs the subcommittee on aviation and space, is seeking information on what various agencies knew about the plane's safety and where oversight processes may have gone wrong. Top officials from the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Department of Transportation will testify. Topics will include similarities between the two crashes, one in Indonesia in October and the other last week in Ethiopia.

The big picture: In holding the hearing, Cruz will complement a House inquiry already underway in that chamber's transportation committee. In addition, Boeing is also facing investigations from the Transportation Department's Inspector General, Justice Department, and other entities that are also investigating how the 737 MAX was certified as safe to fly in 2017, and judged to be safe enough to continue to fly after the October crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8.

  • Cruz plans to investigate what federal agencies learned between the first and second crashes, and how that played into the FAA's decision to delay grounding the plane in the U.S. until virtually every other affected country had done so.
  • Another area of inquiry is how deferential the FAA was to Boeing in allowing the aerospace giant to self-certify much of the aircraft's production.

What we're watching: One item of particular interest is a software system known as MCAS, which was designed to prevent the plane from stalling, but which is suspected of causing both crashes by forcing the aircraft's nose downward.

Go deeper: What we've learned from the Boeing 737 MAX crashes

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 857,487 — Total deaths: 42,107 — Total recoveries: 178,034.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 188,172 — Total deaths: 3,873 — Total recoveries: 7,024.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: UN warns of recession with "no parallel" to recent past

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus pandemic is the "greatest test" the world has faced together since the formation of the United Nations just after the Second World War ended in 1945, UN chief António Guterres said Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 856,000 and the death toll exceeded 42,000 Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 12,000 deaths.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

White House projects 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths

President Trump said at a press briefing on Tuesday that the next two weeks in the U.S. will be "very painful" and that he wants "every American to be prepared for the days that lie ahead," before giving way to Deborah Birx to explain the models informing the White House's new guidance on the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It's a somber new tone from the president that comes after his medical advisers showed him data projecting that the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health