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FAA will need 10,000 new workers to certify all aircraft by itself

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WASHINGTON: It would cost US$1.8 billion (S$2.4 billion) and take 10,000 new employees for the US aviation regulator to handle all aircraft certification internally, the agency's acting chief told a Senate panel on Wednesday, facing tough questions on how new planes are approved for flight.

The panel was formed after after two Boeing 737 Max crashes.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) delegates much of the work of airplane certification to manufacturers such as Boeing.

The FAA has agreed to improve its oversight of organisations performing certifications on its behalf by July, US Transportation Department Inspector-General Calvin Scovel told the panel.

The FAA's acting head Daniel Elwell was asked why it did not require disclosure of a new anti-stall software system in flight manuals or new pilot training before it certified the now grounded 737 Max passenger jet in 2017.

Boeing said on Wednesday it had reprogrammed software on its 737 Max passenger jet to prevent erroneous data from triggering an anti-stall system that is under mounting scrutiny following the two deadly crashes.

The planemaker said the anti-stall system, believed to have repeatedly forced the nose lower in at least one of the accidents would only do so one time after sensing a problem, giving pilots more control.

Mr Elwell also said an alert to pilots that Boeing was making standard on all 737 Max planes was not "safety critical". Boeing will stop charging for that alert and will not charge for another optional indicator.

Mr Elwell also defended the decision not to require new training. "Fundamentally, the aircraft layout, the handling and the performance of the aircraft was the same." - REUTERS

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