The 737 MAX 7 pulls onto the stand (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Chuyi Chuang)

U.S. Senate Considers Bill to Improve Aircraft Certification

Members of the United States Senate have introduced a bill to reinforce aviation safety and oversight particularly with regards to certification, FlightGlobal reports. The bill comes amid the ongoing Boeing 737 MAX scandal, which has left many puzzled as to why the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not vet the airplane more strictly.

The bill, titled the Restoring Aviation Accountability Act, was submitted by Democratic senators Richard Blumenthal, Tom Udall and Edward Markey. All are members of the Senate Transportation Committee.

“The American people expect the FAA to be tough, independent and uncompromising when it comes to their safety,” Udall said. “This new bill would restore integrity in the FAA’s certification process while restoring the flying public’s faith in American aviation.”

The new bill, which has support from the U.S. Air Line Pilots Association, the Association of Flight Attendants and other industry groups, will reverse policies that allow for so-called “self-certification,” which has been called a “substantial weakness” in the FAA’s certification process.

The Restoring Aviation Accountability Act recommends the implementation of an independent type certificate review panel composed of FAA safety inspectors and pilots as well as maintenance, crew, and manufacturer representatives. It would also establish a commission to review the FAA Safety Delegation Program to evaluate whether alternative certification processes provide more comprehensive tests.

“This bill is a safety-first measure that makes a number of improvements in the aviation system, including aircraft certification, delegated authority and the oversight of the FAA’s certification process,” said Joe DePete, President of Air Line Pilots Association, International.

In addition, the bill would prevent US-built aircraft from being sold to airlines in states that do not conform with ICAO standards. Aircraft manufacturers would be required to submit information on where planes are being sold to and on the potential need for additional training materials, including for operation, maintenance, and simulation.

This legislation mirrors many steps that the 737 MAX will face as it goes through recertification. Of note, the jet will need to present its improvements to a panel of pilots who will test it for safety. The pilots running this effort will also recommend training procedures for airlines who operate the MAX. Boeing says that its fastest-selling jet will be ready for recertification around the middle of this year.

John McDermott
John McDermott
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