FAA Reduces “Delegated” Certification Work | New
The Federal Aviation Administration chief has assured lawmakers his office is tightening the rules for self-certification of aircraft in the wake of legislation stemming from two Boeing 737 Max strandings.
As part of an effort to strengthen oversight, the FAA has also limited delegation to Boeing of certain work related to the certification of the 737 Max 10 and 777-9, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said. at an aviation committee hearing on October 21.
“We also limited the delegated functions for critical design features” on these planes, Dickson said, without elaborating.
Boeing is working on certifying both planes, with plans to start delivering the types in 2023.
“We are delegating less responsibility to manufacturers and we are demanding more transparency from them,” Dickson said at a hearing of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “In the nearly three years that have passed since these tragedies, we have made tangible and lasting improvements in safety. “
Lawmakers have called on Dickson to testify in an effort to review changes made by the FAA in response to a 2020 law to improve the aircraft certification process.
A Lion Air 737 Max 8 crashed in October 2018, followed in March 2019 by the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane of the same model. The crashes killed 346 people and sparked widespread criticism of the aircraft’s design by Boeing and FAA oversight.
The resulting law, signed by President Donald Trump in December 2020, requires the FAA to review aircraft manufacturers’ ‘Organization Designation Clearances’ (ODAs) – programs under which the FAA delegates work. certification to manufacturers.
“In general, our approach to aircraft certification and safety oversight has changed,” says Dickson. “The FAA’s relationship with manufacturers is evolving. We prioritize manufacturer oversight and strive to focus this oversight on safety critical areas. “
Dickson says the FAA “now demands more transparency” from aerospace manufacturers and delegates less regulatory oversight to them.
The law also requires the FAA to hire more technical staff and take into account pilot performance factors, and it ordered the FAA to require aircraft manufacturers to have safety structures in place. organization-wide called “Safety Management Systems” (SMS).
Dickson says the FAA has fulfilled nearly 200 of the law’s 300 requirements, although many outstanding provisions involve rules that are yet to be finalized.
“We plan to implement significant changes to our policies and procedures to delegate certification authority to private entities,” says Dickson’s prepared testimony.
In the wake of the 737 Max crashes, Boeing has faced allegations that its executives pressured employees in its ODA division. The FAA has been criticized for approving “modified” products, such as the 737 Max, which is an updated variant of a model first certified in 1967. Additionally, the crashes have prompted questions about the how pilots should react to cockpit problems.
Dickson told lawmakers that the FAA is developing guidelines to ensure that aircraft design changes “are evaluated from the whole aircraft perspective.” The FAA is also reviewing assumptions about pilot response times.