Boeing and F.A.A. Hearings: Live Updates – The New York Times

“I don’t think we’re there yet, but it is very questionable if these were safety-oriented additions, why they were not part of the required template of measures that should go into an airplane,” Ms. Chao said.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said she was considering introducing a bill that would require aircraft manufacturers to include all available safety features in the base price of an airplane.

“To have two planes go down allegedly from the same problem within a limited period of time with a lot of people aboard says we’re doing something wrong to me,” Ms. Feinstein said. “I feel very strongly that key safety equipment should be included in the basic sale price of a plane.”

The F.A.A. has long allowed plane makers to help certify that their new aircraft meet safety standards. Ms. Chao called the practice “necessary,” though it is coming under increased scrutiny.

Boeing, through the Organization Designation Authorization program, was able to choose its own employees to help some 400 government regulators certify the 737 Max. When asked by Ms. Collins whether the relationship “sacrifices potentially the safety of the traveling public,” Ms. Chao said that the possibility was “troubling.”

“I am, of course, concerned about any allegations of coziness with any company, manufacturer, whatever,” she said, later adding: “We should have absolute confidence in the regulators, that they are certifying properly.”

But she added that the government has delegated certification duties to the aviation industry since the 1920s.

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