On October 29, 2018, Lion Air flight 610 out of Jakarta – a Boeing 737 MAX – crashed 13 minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 passengers and crew aboard. 

Six months later, Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 out of Addis Ababa crashed six minutes after takeoff. As in Indonesia, the crash killed everyone on board, 157 people. As in Indonesia, the plane was a 737 MAX.

As Chair of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Peter led the 2020 investigation into the disasters.

Not everyone was on board with the investigation. Republicans on the T&I committee turned a blind eye, but that didn't faze Peter one bit. By that time, he’d been fighting to improve commercial airline safety for decades. (In fact, years before September 11, 2001, Peter tried to mandate secure flight decks, but industry lobbyists spiked the deal.)

The report he spearheaded in the wake of the Boeing disasters explained the technical issues that led to the crashes, mostly centered around a new flight control system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.

More importantly, the report laid bare what many suspected – a disgraceful pattern of  profit-driven misjudgments and outright deception by Boeing, enabled by compromised FAA oversight (Peter described the coziness between the aircraft industry and the FAA as “mind-boggling”) and systemic accountability gaps. Specifically, Peter chastised Boeing management for putting immense pressure on employees to minimize expenses and expedite the development of the 737 MAX, driven by the need to compete with the recently launched Airbus A320neo.

The thoroughness and unflinching honesty of Peter’s investigation resulted in a massive overhaul in the airline certification process, as well as the Department of Justice filing criminal justice charges against Boeing.