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Aircraft Certification Committee Releases Findings & Recommendations to Enhance Aviation Safety

Thursday, January 16, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Special Committee to Review the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Certification Process (the Committee), established by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, released its report after more than six months of study and evaluation. The Committee was commissioned as an independent panel of aviation and safety experts to conduct an objective review of the procedures of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for product certification and the processes followed by the FAA and Boeing during the certification of the 737 MAX 8. The Committee was instructed to review the certification process, evaluate potential enhancements to the system, and make recommendations to bolster aviation safety. The report released today captures the numerous, consensus findings and more than a dozen unanimous recommendations by the Special Committee.

FAA Certification

The Committee found that overall, the FAA’s certification, as set forth by Congress and governed by regulation, is effective; however, reforms must be adopted to help our extremely safe aviation system become even better at identifying and mitigating risk.

737 MAX 8 Certification

The Committee found that the FAA’s aircraft certification process was followed by the FAA and Boeing in the certification of the 737 MAX 8; however, again, there is opportunity for improvement in multiple areas.

The executive summary of the report can be found here.

Findings and Recommendations

The Committee made findings and offered recommendations with respect to the following areas:

  1. Broader requirement for Safety Management Systems (SMS) for design and manufacturing organizations
  2. Expansion of System Safety Assessments (SSA), which are an essential component of safety risk management
  3. Expansion of the FAA’s global engagement and influence
  4. Better data gathering and utilization
  5. Closer and more specified coordination among the different FAA offices engaged in the certification process
  6. Aggressive development of the FAA workforce to meet evolving industry needs
  7. Continued use and enhancement of the FAA’s system of delegation within the certification process
  8. Clarification and updating of the FAA’s policies with respect to amended type certificates
  9. Continued focus on th FAA’s innovation efforts to support new entrants and the further implementation of performance-based regulations
  10. Review and action on recent recommended actions from industry-government advisory committees and government oversight agencies to enhance the safety and efficiency of the certification process

The full report can be found here.

Background

In April of 2019, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao created the Special Committee to Review the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Certification Process. This action was taken in response to the crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, one in Indonesia and one in Ethiopia, which claimed 346 lives. The Committee was instructed to review the certification process, evaluate potential enhancements to the system, and make recommendations to bolster aviation safety. The Committee is made up of five members: Co-Chairs Captain Lee Moak and General Darren McDew and members Gretchen Haskins, Kenneth Hylander, and David Grizzle.

Over a period of six months, the Committee worked to obtain firsthand information and insight from the FAA and stakeholders regarding the aircraft certification system. The Committee met with an array of aviation and safety management specialists. The Committee talked to subject matter experts and managers from the FAA, along with representatives from aviation trade associations, labor organizations, industry, and other U.S. government agencies.  The Committee also spoke with those directly involved in the certification of the 737 MAX 8, including key staff from the FAA’s Boeing Aviation Safety Oversight Office (BASOO) and a large panel of Boeing engineers, test pilots, and safety specialists.

Committee’s approach was collaborative, not investigatory.  Its mandate was to collect and analyze information, not find fault. Its focus was to make findings and recommendations to enhance the process moving forward. The mandate and purpose of the Special Committee to review the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Certification Process, therefore, is unique.

Media Contact for the Special Committee: 

Michael Robbins

202-838-3800

michael.robbins@moakgroup.com

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