A government advisory committee tasked with investigating FAA aircraft certification procedures and the certification of the grounded 737 MAX 8 has found that the proper process was followed by Boeing and the FAA when certifying the MAX. The Special Committee to Review the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Certification Process also found the FAA’s certification procedures to be effective overall. The committee cautioned that, although it believes the current system is effective, reforms are necessary to help the “aviation system become even better at identifying and mitigating risk.”
The committee was established by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in April 2019 in response to the fatal crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, both 737 MAX aircraft. Recommendations put forward in its final report (PDF) include closer coordination among the FAA offices engaged in the certification process, aggressive development of the FAA workforce to meet evolving industry needs, continued use and enhancement of the FAA’s system of delegation within the certification process, and clarification and updating of the FAA’s policies with respect to amended type certificates. It also called for a broader requirement for Safety Management Systems (SMS) for design and manufacturing organizations and expansion of System Safety Assessments (SSA).
“We welcome and appreciate the Special Committee’s insights and recommendations,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in response to the report. “I was pleased to see that the committee recommended we advance the use of Safety Management Systems throughout all sectors of the aviation industry. The agency will carefully consider the committee’s work, along with the recommendations identified in various investigative reports and other analyses, as we take steps to enhance our aircraft certification processes.”