UNITED STATES- In a move to enhance aviation safety, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Wednesday that airplane manufacturers, including Boeing, will be required to submit and disclose safety critical information, including changes to key flight control systems, during the certification process.
FAA Requests Boeing 737 MAX Information
The draft policy, a result of congressional mandates in 2020 to reform the certification process following the tragic 2018 and 2019 Boeing crashes that claimed 346 lives, is now open for public comment until August 25.
The FAA emphasized that they will set milestones throughout the certification process to assess whether any design changes to airplane systems should be considered novel or unusual, thereby necessitating additional scrutiny.
As of now, Boeing and Airbus have not provided immediate comments on the FAA’s new requirement. It is worth noting that Boeing faced criticism for not disclosing vital details about the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) to the FAA.
MCAS was linked to both fatal crashes and was designed to counteract a tendency of the 737 MAX to pitch up.
The repercussions of these crashes have been significant, with Boeing incurring losses exceeding $20 billion in compensation, production costs, and fines.
Consequently, the 737 MAX had to undergo a 20-month grounding while the FAA is still deliberating the certification of two additional variants – the smaller MAX 7 and larger MAX 10.
Oversight and Compliance
A House report pointed out Boeing’s failure to classify MCAS as a safety-critical system, which would have prompted more rigorous FAA scrutiny during the certification process. It also criticized the FAA’s handling of Boeing’s certification of the aircraft.
Last year, the FAA granted Boeing a shorter regulatory compliance program extension than requested to ensure timely implementation of “required improvements.”
In March 2022, the FAA renewed Boeing’s Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program for three years rather than the five years Boeing had sought.
In December 2021, a U.S. Senate report called on the FAA to improve its oversight of Boeing and the certification of new airplanes and thoroughly review allegations raised by whistleblowers.
The FAA’s latest move to mandate the submission and disclosure of safety-critical information underscores its dedication to bolstering aviation safety and learning from past incidents.
The public now has the opportunity to provide valuable input on this policy, which could shape the future of aircraft certification processes for the better.
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