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US House passes certification reform bill after MAX fiasco

written by Hannah Dowling | November 18, 2020
An artist rendition of the Boeing 737 MAX. (Source: Australian Aviation archives).

The US House of Representatives has unanimously approved new legislation that will reform the Federal Aviation Administration’s aircraft certification process.

The legislative reform has come as a direct result of the Boeing 737 MAX disasters, in which 346 people were killed across two fatal crashes on the aircraft.

Under the new House bill, an expert panel will be required to evaluate Boeing’s safety culture and to recommend improvements. 

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The bill also mandates that aircraft manufacturers adopt stringent safety management systems and complete system safety assessments for significant design changes.

Further, it requires that risk calculations be based on realistic assumptions of pilot response time, and that risk assessments are shared with regulators.

“Our intent is to ensure a US manufactured airplane never again crashes due to design issues or regulatory failures,” said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Peter DeFazio.

DeFazio said the FAA failed to properly ensure the safety of the 737 MAX, and called aircraft certification “a broken system that broke the public’s trust”.

An earlier house report into the MAX fiasco said that the fatal crashes were caused by a “horrific culmination” of engineering flaws, mismanagement and a severe lack of industry and federal oversight.

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“Boeing failed in its design and development of the MAX, and the FAA failed in its oversight of Boeing and its certification of the aircraft,” the report said.

The House report heavily criticised Boeing, stating that it withheld “crucial information from the FAA, its customers, and 737 MAX pilots”, including “concealing the very existence of MCAS from 737 MAX pilots”.

Despite this, it also said the FAA “failed to ensure the safety of the travelling public”.

“This is a tragedy that never should have happened,” said DeFazio. “It could have been prevented, and we’re going to take steps in our legislation to see that it never happens again.”

The 737 MAX, which has been grounded since March 2019, is due to be fully recertified by the FAA as soon as Wednesday, following a lengthy process of safety upgrades and renewed training protocols for the aircraft.

US House passes certification reform bill after MAX fiasco Comment

  • Blue Leader

    says:

    Top marks to US Regulators; when they find a problem, they get stuck into sorting out a solution!
    This alone will help re-build ‘brand’ credibility and confidence in the market.
    Well done.

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