Commerce Committee To Consider Aircraft Certification Reform Bill


The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has announced that it will meet next Wednesday to consider proposed legislation including the Aircraft Safety and Certification Reform Act of 2020. According to bill sponsors Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the Aircraft Safety and Certification Reform Act is designed to “improve aviation safety based on lessons learned” from the fatal crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, both Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. As previously reported by AVweb, the Senate Commerce Committee has held a series of hearings related to the safety and certification of the still-grounded MAX.

“A primary goal of this legislation is to make sure the FAA remains in the driver’s seat when it comes to certification,” said Sen. Cantwell following the bill’s introduction last June. “This bill makes it clear the FAA is in charge of the certification workforce and the approval process. Additionally, it requires the FAA to act on the NTSB’s recommendations on new safety standards for automation and pilot training.”

The Aircraft Safety and Certification Reform Act of 2020 (PDF) also contains provisions for mandating safety management systems (SMS) for large aircraft and engine manufacturers, requiring the FAA to approve the appointment of organization designation authorization (ODA) unit members and compelling the agency to review its ability to “understand the safety implications of new or innovative technologies, materials, and procedures.” In addition, it would establish an FAA center of excellence for flight automation and human factors in aircraft along with providing funding authorization for the FAA to hire technical staff with expertise in new and emerging technologies. Provisions for extending whistleblower protections for employees and contractors of aircraft, engine and propeller manufacturers and maintaining a safety reporting program for FAA employees and are also included.

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Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Too much government again. The FAA will never be able to hire enough good engineers at the salary levels they can pay. The result will be like all deals with the FAA. No FAA inspector will make a decision in a reasonable amount of time. Will add years to new product development.