An overhaul of the aircraft certification process is likely part of the omnibus spending bill that Congress will likely pass Monday. The bill is expected to pass along with a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill that has been mired in partisan bickering. The clause on the FAA suffered no such political hand wringing, however. It gained bipartisan support in both houses. The new legislation will reform the certification process, grant new protections for whistleblowers and give more weight to misconduct and discipline issues within the FAA.
The bills were forwarded as new revelations came to light alleging the FAA had improperly “coached” test pilots on aircraft behavior during the Boeing 737 MAX recertification process. “It is clear that the agency requires consistent oversight to ensure their work to protect the flying public is executed fully and correctly,” said Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker. The COVID-19 relief bill does have some money for aviation. It is expected to have $15 billion to extend payroll assistance for airlines and $1 billion for airport contractors. Rail and highway transport sectors get about $30 billion.