U.S. Senate panel votes to advance FAA certification reform bill

By David Shepardson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve a bill to reform how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifies new airplanes after two deadly Boeing 737 MAX crashes killed 346 people and raised questions about U.S. regulators' oversight.

Reuters November 19, 2020 00:09:18 IST
U.S. Senate panel votes to advance FAA certification reform bill

US Senate panel votes to advance FAA certification reform bill

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve a bill to reform how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifies new airplanes after two deadly Boeing 737 MAX crashes killed 346 people and raised questions about U.S. regulators' oversight.

Senator Maria Cantwell, the committee's top Democrat, said the message to the FAA and Boeing Co is "cutting corners is not an option." On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved similar legislation. The FAA on Wednesday issued an order to unground the plane after 20 months.

Lawmakers hope to reach agreement to significantly tighten aviation industry oversight before Congress adjourns for the year, aides said, but acknowledge they may not have time.

Senator Roger Wicker, the panel's chairman, said he and Cantwell hope "to move this very important legislation forward as soon as possible."

The bill grants FAA new power over the longstanding practice of delegating some certification tasks to aircraft manufacturer employees.

Boeing declined to comment on the bill.

House Transportation Committee chairman Peter DeFazio, a Democrat, said the FAA failed to properly ensure the safety of the 737 MAX, and has called aircraft certification "a broken system that broke the public's trust."

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told Reuters the agency will "work with Congress" on proposed reforms.

Dickson said FAA delegation of tasks to Boeing and others is beneficial when properly done. "We have to have an arms-length relationship but we also want to leverage the capabilities and the data and the information that the company has," Dickson said.

It would require FAA to quickly disclose risk assessments after fatal air crashes and a review of methodology behind them.

In the aftermath of the October 2018 Lion Air 737 MAX crash, the FAA conducted a risk assessment that calculated that without a fix to a key safety system called MCAS there would be an estimated 15 additional fatal accidents over the lifetime of the 737 MAX.

DeFazio said "despite its own calculations, the FAA rolled the dice on the safety of the traveling public and let the MAX continue to fly until Boeing could overhaul its MCAS software."

The bill also would create new whistleblower protections and bolster misconduct investigations and discipline management at the FAA and require a review of FAA certification expertise.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Matthew Lewis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.