Committee Finds Proper Process Followed In MAX Certification

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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.”

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30 COMMENTS

  1. Government investigates itself and finds itself effective. Certifying authorities worldwide, upon seeing this, withdraw all concerns regarding MAX certification.

    Or maybe this result is meaningless in reality?

  2. Wait a minute, Administrator Dickson and Secretary Chao!
    Not so fast patting yourselves and your people on the back.
    (sound of backstroking by Federal Regulators)

    I took the time to read the Executive Summary of the 68 page “Official Report of the Special Committee to review the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Certification Process” dated Jan 16, 2020. I saw numerous examples where the FAA — ITSELF — was culpable in the MCAS debacle in major ways. It’s not as simple as applying some SMS principles — as reported above — and everything will be OK.

    In the Exec Summary, it plainly says that “FAA retained design approval of the 737 MAX 8 flight control system, including MCAS, through the end of the certification process. This means the task of certifying the flight control system was only delegated to the Boeing ODA after several years of design review and discussion.” So which is it … did FAA retain full design approval throughout the process or did the Boeing’s ODA do that? The report is written in an obtuse manner. It took some combo of FAA and Boeing to come up with THIS flawed system after five years. Geez!

    I invite readers here to read the Exec Summary and form your own conclusions.

    On the FAA’s website, “SMS Misconceptions” are described and defined as NOT interchangeable with FAA’s oversight systems. SMS is an organizations internal method for continuous process improvement. THAT is how we got into the ODA approval debacle of MCAS in the first place.” Said more succinctly, the Fox was entrusted to watch the henhouse and some chickens disappeared, as I see it.

    So now you’re trying to tell everyone what a wonderful job they did and all we need is a little “tweaking.” In some parts of that report, it seemed like the writers were making excuses for the FAA. We, here, all know that’s true. It wasn’t only Boeing that caused this issue.

    Mr. Administrator, I think you’d better read your own website:
    “An SMS does not rescind our responsibility as regulator.
    While we feel that a positive, proactive relationship with product/service providers is preferable to an adversarial, legalistic stance, we must and will maintain our position of providing effective safety oversight.”

    “An SMS is not a means of outsourcing FAA work or of diminishing the status of FAA Technical Workforce.”

    ” SMS is not interchangeable with FAA Oversight Systems.”

    Try reading the following, Sir and Ma’am:
    faa.gov/about/initiatives/sms/explained/misconceptions/

    You ultimately delegated MCAS ODA authority to Boeing (violating the above definitions), Boeing may well have had a SMS process in place and yet there are 346 people no longer with us because of a multi-layered comedy of errors and now all we gotta do is tighten up SMS. For gosh sake … you’re not even helping Boeing to get all of the Max8 airplanes back to operational status in a timely manner and now you’re patting yourselves on the back for not having any substantial culpability in the process and saying things just need tweaked.

    If you’re gonna Regulate … then Regulate … otherwise, get out of our way.

    Well … at least Boeing now has a GE CEO to take care of things (sic) …

  3. Larry: What was CEO Dave doing in the WH during the signing of the China Trade Agreement?

    “ … Well … well maybe he was in DC to beg the FAA for mercy and absolution? OR … maybe he’s hoping the President will order the FAA to act fast? MAPOBA … indeed!”

        • Sorry, Jason … I thought it was Yars that said that but now I remember it was you.

          See:
          bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-17/boeing-s-calhoun-warned-by-air-force-that-it-s-not-happy-either?utm_medium=social&cmpid=socialflow-facebook-business&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_content=business&fbclid=IwAR381tDwcWnZuSxPSW4VRBx3_xZ0ROIEEsBN6JWPAD-R5P5q81jz52AP1sg

          Looks like the Max has ANOTHER (sic) S/W problem AND the USAF Chief of Staff is VERY unhappy with Boeing’s progress correcting problems with the KC-46A Pegasus air refueling tanker (B767 derivative).

          I KNEW the USAF was making a mistake when the didn’t buy the Northrop / EADS KC-30 !!

          RAF … there’s a comment about the CEO being there in DC, too.

  4. The committee finding is like relizing that a dog has pooped in the house and it is smelling really bad. The solution found is to use a clamp on the nose to…. well… not smell it. Ignorance can be bliss – just not in this case. It just makes the rate on the scale slip even lower like from a 3/10 to a 2/10 or even 1/10. They obviously don’t care as they feel to be untouchable. (reminds me of the official report on the findings of the collapses of the towers and oter buildings on 911 where new physics seem to have applied – LOL) The loss of trust into the system that they are causing just lets you doubt that the leadership is even aware of what this kind of findings signals to both, the public and even more for the people who have a deeper insight, which are the folks interested in and able to comprehend implications and the details.

    What astounds me the most, is that the conclusions one would expect a while ago would be news from Boing like: Boeing has started the development of the successor for the 737 series and put together a team to develop an aircraft that will allow to adopt future technologies (Electric?) and developments into the design. They could even step up to the plate and offer an upgrade from undelivered Max’s to the new successor, should it be out before all of the current order are filled. That would just boost the morale and put the focus on creating something nes and good instead of keeping the focus on the bad, which makes them and the USA suffer even more. (What you focus on grows and what you forget atrophies)

    Another aspect that I have not heard of is the additional implementation of a backup assesment of parameters that simply take all the other available data as airspeed (even GPS-speed as backup if there is no speed reading due to Ice or other circumstances) vertical speed (GPS too), power settings (actual output in %) and place them in the design envellope. You immediatelly know that now you have a single source (AOA-Sensor) standing vs several sources of data with additional backups being checked against each other. If you now additionally go in and look at the changes of these parameters and the speed of change (by integration) you can now easily predict how long it will take until you transition outside of the design envelope. Now you have a tool to alert the pilot, providing time to analize the situation make a sound decision and take positive action to avoid going outside of the designed performance envelope.

    What we have instead, is a system that by design hijacks the plane from the pilot by doing an input that does just the opposite of what it was designed for – preventing the aircraft to go outside of its design envelope. It already has proven “not to be smart = useless” aplication that can, by its own action put the aircraft outside of the performance envelope window within seconds, making it impossible to recover, because they are attempting to fix a potential problem by superimposing a fly by wire solution on top of a fly by cable technology. Now the elevator forces that are a true force feedback from the elevator are being within a few seconds placed in a position with the feedback force that would be related to tearing off the wings if you would apply this kind of force to the elevator in normal flight. This approach is so totally flawed, that I still can not comprehend why they are sticking to this proven to be flawed approach instead of being smart and providing the pilot with needed information to make the right decision and realizing that there is a faulty (AOA) sensor causing an alarm. I don’t get it…..

  5. The fly is over here. Please aim your rocket-propelled-grenade-launcher at the arm of the recliner.

    The MCAS exists solely to provide the pilots with REQUIRED linear stick forces, under very limited flight conditions. Could an average Joe/Jill rated pilot fly the thing without an MCAS? Yup. But THE STICK-FORCE CERTIFICATION RULES DO NOT ALLOW THAT.

    Evidence? When the MCAS gets fooled by a defective AoA, the pilots can DISABLE it in a palette of ways – and still fly the airplane. Boeing AND the FAA both thought it reasonable to rely upon pilots to take such action. Clearly, that trust was unfounded.

    Is the only acceptable answer an all-up protect-the-airplane-FROM-its pilots FBW solution? Is there a more subtle way to kill that housefly? Not if Chicken Little is running the show. Whole lotta feathers on the floor around here.

  6. Love how you read the whole report but failed to comprehend that only 1 of the committee members was a government employee. The rest are industry and military leaders. Your incessant anti-government banter is tiring.

    Fault is expansive across lines of business and industry in this issue. A neutral committee isn’t one of them.

    • “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.”

      Who do you think was paying those people? Who ‘chartered’ their work? Where was the final findings sent? The members were “tasked” with acting on behalf of the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of the FAA, Kevin. Do you think it’d have been better if it had been written by FAA employees? Either they CAN’T do good work or the DOT and FAA leaders wanted unbiased input. Doesn’t seem like they did a very good job, either.

  7. Everyday that goes by the FAA does less. The MAX is no closer to re-entering service. No FAA employee hiding under their cubical desk has had their pay check threatened while thousands of contractors and Boeing employee’s pay checks go on hold.

    SMS is just a program to report your co-worker’s errors. Everybody is forced to do less so they don’t get reported. If you don’t do anything you never get in trouble. Other-words, you operate like congress.

  8. If you think the certification of the certification department by the certification department is a mess you should see how the enforcement of Grant Assurances is handled. It is appalling to see how cavalier the Grant Assurance enforcement people are. They dole out hundreds of millions of your dollars and let most Airports simply ignore the Assurances and the Regulations with nary a repercussion to the offending Airports.

      • Yes, and it is how hundreds of airports get away with stealing your money and ignoring the rules they signed to get it., Meigs field in Chicago, Santa Monica in CA. Nothing is ever done to PUNISH these miscreants. What it amounts to is local officials getting a big picture in the local newspaper helping them stay in power. Meanwhile they file the Grant Assurances in the garbage can. The FAA has ZERO true enforcement of these rouge airports. You can’t even get them off their ergonomic chairs bought with your money to actually, gosh imagine this, fly to the airports under their umbrella and INSPECT them for compliance once a year or so.

  9. I hear the most BS here. Most of it in hyperbole.And it’s the same ‘experts’ chiming in all the time. I’m beginning to think they are taking money from Airbus to keep it up. The only people that were worse we the members of Congress during the hearings. The loudest mouth on this stream of posts, Gerhard, apparently knows little about the 737 control system based on his post.