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U.S. House Democrats want FAA to release 737 MAX safety review documents

FAA Chief Steve Dickson returns in a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in Seattle

By David Shepardson and Eric M. Johnson

WASHINGTON/SEATTLE (Reuters) - Two key House of Representatives Democrats on Thursday urged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to release all documents related to the government's 18-month review of the grounded Boeing 737 MAX.

Representatives Peter DeFazio, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Rick Larsen, who heads an aviation subcommittee, said that the FAA should not give the plane the go-ahead to fly commercially again before it releases "system safety assessments, related analysis, assumptions about pilot response times and key test data concerning the safety of the aircraft."

Boeing declined to comment. The FAA said it would respond directly to the lawmakers. Being "fully transparent... will only be the first of many steps forward towards this goal that the FAA must take to regain the trust of the flying public."

On Wednesday, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, a former commercial and military pilot, conducted a two-hour evaluation flight of a 737 MAX and said "I like what I saw on the flight."

He defended the agency's public disclosures. "I think we have been transparent to an unprecedented degree... I understand the desire for transparency. We are providing everything we can, within the law."

The lawmakers said "to assure the flying public that Boeing’s fixes to the MAX have rendered the plane safe to once again carry passengers, the FAA will need to do more than merely certify that the plane is now compliant."

The accidents plunged Boeing into its worst-ever crisis, strained its relationship with the FAA and cast doubt on the U.S. regulator's position as the standard-bearer for global aviation safety.

The FAA is requiring significant software changes to the MAX including new safeguards for a system linked to both fatal crashes and new training for all pilots before they resume flights.

DeFazio's committee on Wednesday unanimously approved bipartisan legislation to reform the FAA's aircraft certification process.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)