FAA Adding ‘Safety Division’


The FAA says it’s establishing a new “safety division” but says it has nothing to do with the Boeing 737 MAX.  The Washington Post first revealed the new department but the agency says it’s old news, part of a reorganization that began two years ago. “The FAA is constantly evolving and changing to continue addressing the safety needs of the flying public,” FAA spokeswoman Briana Manzelli told CNBC. “The primary role of this branch is to better coordinate the FAA’s aircraft certification efforts.” Meanwhile, Boeing and the FAA seem to be at odds over the timeline for recertification of the MAX and the agency is talking tough.

In advance of a meeting between FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, Philip Newman, the agency’s assistant administrator for government and industry affairs, sent an email to relevant congressional committees raising concerns about Boeing’s apparently optimistic return-to-service predictions and asserting that there will be no rush to approval for the MAX. “More concerning, the Administrator wants to directly address the perception that some of Boeing’s public statements have been designed to force FAA into taking quicker action,” Newman wrote. Boeing brass emerged from the meeting hopeful if not exactly optimistic. “Boeing reaffirmed with the FAA that safety is our top shared priority, and we committed to addressing all of the FAA’s questions as they assess MAX certification and training requirements,” Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement. “We will work with the FAA to support their requirements and their timeline as we work to safely return the Max to service in 2020.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. If the FAA Safety Division is as inept as the Grant Assurance Division I truly fear for the future of flying in American Airspace. After dealing for over 3 1/2 years with an obligated Airport’s abuse of Grant Assurances and outright discrimination it has become all to obvious the FAA is a bloated monster doing little of value for the flying public Well, except growing itself and excusing blatant ongoing rule and regulation infractions. Now FAA wants me to believe that a new department is actually going to do anything of value. I for one have a very jaded view of how the FAA handles the billions in tax dollars and fees they collect.

  2. The FAA is adding a “Safety Division”? Is this a confession of some sort by the FAA? Have I been mistaken for the past 50 years understanding that the very existence and original intent of the FAA was safety? Or has it actually been more about compliance than safety? If “The primary role of this branch is to better coordinate the FAA’s aircraft certification efforts” why would they not want to name it what it is? “Aircraft Certification Effort Coordination Division”?

    • John, it is pretty simple, Government feeds itself first, Government grows itself first, Government consumes your money first. Their mission, breaking existing regulations, lack of oversight and ability to ignore egregious abuses by those getting public money come a distant last. Now, on the other hand let your medical expire, commit an unintentional airspace infraction and watch out, they are coming for you.

  3. It’s remotely possible this could turn out to be a budget- and payroll-inflating scheme and, disregarding the quarterly and annual reports, little else. Just maybe.

  4. I’m with John K. Silly me, I thought that the Prime Directive of the FAA was to enhance safety. The FAA forming a safety department is similar to Boeing forming a safety division. It sounds nice to the general public, but it appears to alleviate all other departmets and divisions of any need to consider safety as one of their duties. A true safety culture is one where every employee considers safety as Job One – personal safety, safety of fellow employees and safety of the customers who use their products. It’s like quality control; it can’t be inserted at the end of the assembly line by some other department, it has to be baked in from the beginning. Otherwise, it’s just someone else’s problem.

    • What they have done is create more layers of unaccountable people hiding behind the mantra of Government departments Nation wide. That mantra is to do nothing of value but make dang sure the guy that just retired was at fault for all of it. Or, we have a department for that part and it must have dropped the ball.

  5. And lets not forget that the original 1958 FAA Mission Statement contained a directive to “promulgate aviation.” Some folks claim this was removed in the 90’s but I — for one — feel that it IS one of the two primary tenets of its existence.

    Well … we thought having a real live pilot in charge would make a difference … I guess not ??

    I know people who have retired from FAA who are now living in luxury on their retirements, too. Sigh!

  6. If anyone wants to check previous threads, I did not favor Mr. Dickson as administrator. Having a pilot would have been beneficial but not an airline pilot who was in management with the airlines. A GA pilot would have been much better, pt135 experience even more so. I think the alleged thorough redo of the MAX certification is a good thing, I hope it does not turn into the same foot dragging the FAA is well known for.