Lawmakers grill officials over FAA processes in wake of crashes » Lawmakers grilled transportation officials on Capitol Hill Wednesday, in the wake of two deadly crashes involving American-made Boeing jets.
CRUZ: Is the FAA taking the right approach to the oversight and certification of aircraft manufacturing, operations and repair?
Texas Senator Ted Cruz heard there. He chairs the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space.
Transportation Department inspector general Calvin Scovel said he’s asked that very question. And he determined that the way the FAA and airlines certify the safety of aircraft has to change.
SCOVEL: In 2015 we reported that its oversight was not based on risk. In response to our recommendations, FAA plans to revamp its ODA oversight process by the end of July 2019.
For decades, the FAA has delegated some authority for certifying new aircraft to the manufacturers. That has reduced government costs and cut some of the red tape that would otherwise slow the rollout of new models. But after air disasters, that process has drawn scrutiny.
But acting chairman of the FAA Daniel Elwell said his agency doesn’t have the manpower or the budget to certify the aircraft on its own.
ELWELL: An estimation, it would require roughly 10,000 more employees to do their role at the FAA and about 1.8 billion dollars for our certification office in the FAA.
737 Max pilots makes emergency landing » The hearing came hours after a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max jet being taxied out to Arizona had to turn around and make an emergency landing in Orlando.
PILOT: [sic] 701, we just lost our right engine, need to declare an emergency.
The engine problem that forced the landing was completely unrelated to the software and sensor issue believed to be at the heart of those two recent crashes.
The plane had no passengers aboard at the time. Pilots were flying it to an Arizona hangar, where Southwest is storing its Boeing Max jets while they’re grounded.
Venezuela’s interim first lady visits White House » The wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido visited the White House on Wednesday.
26-year-old Fabiana Rosales has assumed a prominent public role speaking out about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in her country. Meeting with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Rosales said Venezuelans are suffering.
ROSALES: The power crisis is very serious. Children are dying, are dying in hospitals. Children are dying because they have no food.
The U.S. was the first country to recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful interim president. More than 50 other countries have followed suit. They say disputed President Nicolas Maduro rigged last year’s election.
Meeting in the Roosevelt room, President Trump praised the work of Guaido and his wife on behalf of Venezuela.
TRUMP: What’s happening there should not happen and be allowed to happen anywhere, so we’re with you 100 percent.
Vice President Pence also called out Moscow, saying, “The United States views Russia’s arrival of military planes this weekend as an unwelcome provocation and calls on Russia today to cease all support for the Maduro regime.”
Theresa May pledges to resign if lawmakers approve Brexit deal » British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday made a dramatic concession to try and push her Brexit deal across the finish line.
MAY: The objective that we should all have is being able to deliver Brexit and guarantee delivering Brexit to the British people.
She later told Conservative lawmakers that if and when they deliver on Brexit, she will step down as prime minister.
May said “I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party.” … “I know there is a desire for a new approach—and new leadership—in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations, and I won’t stand in the way of that.”
Some lawmakers said they would support the withdrawal deal if another leader took charge of the next stage of negotiations. But May’s concession may not be enough. Some vow to oppose it still.
British lawmakers voted on eight different possible Brexit options last night, but none received the majority support. Lawmakers plan to narrow the list of options down and hold more votes on Monday.
Charlottesville driver pleads guilty to hate crimes » A man convicted on state murder charges in a deadly car attack at a white nationalist rally in 2017 pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal hate crime charges. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: A Virginia jury previously found James Alex Fields Jr. guilty of intentionally plowing his car into a crowd at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.
The impact injured more than 30 counter-protestors and killed activist Heather Heyer.
Fields pleaded guilty Wednesday to 29 of 30 federal charges. He did not plead guilty to one count that carried a potential death penalty.
Jurors in Fields’ state trial recommended a life sentence plus 419 years, although a judge still has to decide on the punishment. Sentencing in both the state and federal cases is scheduled for July.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.