What’s Next for Boeing, FAA After Ethiopian Airlines Crash: CBS News Turns to Mike Slack for Insight

In the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crash, the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) announced changes in oversight and that Boeing is working on a software update and plans to add additional sensors to its aircraft—but is it enough? In two interviews, CBS News asked Managing Partner Mike Slack if these measures will improve air travel safety, and what we can expect from Boeing and the FAA going forward.

Slack told CBS News that the fix Boeing put in place will need to be evaluated to determine if the entire system is comprehensive and safe. “It’s a natural next step to improve the system from one to two sensors, but you still have to deal with the fact that if the two sensors disagree, what is the logic in the system that copes with the disagreement?” he explained. “You’ve got a complicated design situation here, which is being driven by the fact that apparently Boeing does not think pilots can safely manage the aircraft without the system, but the system is accountable for two fatal crashes.”

He also pointed out that the certification of all aircrafts will likely change in the coming months, but in the meantime, Boeing may face criminal charges. Although plane crash prosecutions are rare, federal investigators have opened a criminal probe related to the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes.

Despite the problems with the 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 aircraft, Slack does not believe that air travelers are in imminent danger, or that the entire model needs to be scrapped. “But the big challenge is whether the aircraft is safe when it’s put back in the air,” he said in a second interview with CBS News. “Boeing is in a deep hole, and they’re sharing that foxhole with the FAA. This airplane has problems in its DNA, and there’s a lot of explaining to do.”

Watch both CBS News interviews here and here.