737 Crashes Revamp Oversight, FAA Tells Congress
Responding to widespread criticism of the FAA in the wake of two deadly crashes of Boeing’s 737 Max outside the U.S., the inspector general of the Department of Transportation told a Senate panel on Wednesday that the agency plans to revamp its oversight of passenger aircraft development.
Inspector General Calvin Scovel III offered few details of what the revamp of FAA oversight will entail in testimony before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, but he said the changes will be implemented by July.
Scovel also said the changes would include new ways to evaluate training and self-audits by aerospace companies.
The FAA has long delegated some authority for certifying new aircraft to the manufacturers themselves in part to reduce government costs and speed the rollout of new models to an aviation market always hungry for the newest and most advanced.
The practice is known as Organization Designation Authorization.
On Wednesday, in addition to Scovel, the subcommittee also heard from acting FAA administrator Daniel Elwell, Robert L. Sumwalt III, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.
Elwell told the panel that the revamping the agency’s certification program won’t be easy or inexpensive.
He suggested the FAA would have to hire 10,000 more workers and spend another $1.8 billion to match the number of airplanes certified for flight by its current, 60-year-old system of delegating duties to aircraft makers.
He also told lawmakers that despite how some might interpret the phrase “self-certification,” the FAA continues to exercise strict oversight of the manufacturers.
Not everyone at Wednesday’s hearing was convinced.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he is about to propose legislation with the aim of increasing oversight for the industry.
He said he believes Boeing rushed to get the 737 Max into the air because of its tooth and nail competition with Europe’s Airbus.
In a rush for market share, concerns over safety were handled on the “cheap,” Blumenthal said. “There needs to be rigorous reform so the FAA is put back in charge of safety,” he added.
In related news, Southwest Airlines said Wednesday that the government’s grounding of all Boeing 737 Max jets will contribute to a $150 million revenue loss in the first quarter.
The airline said since the planes were grounded on March 10, it has had to cancel about 2,800 flights due to the groundings.
In The News
North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess knew he had to do something. In 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced South Carolina led the nation in drunk driving fatalities, with 44% of all auto accident deaths involving at least one driver with a blood alcohol... Read More
Last week, a bipartisan, bicameral coalition led by freshman Representative Sean Casten D-Ill., introduced legislation aimed at encouraging innovation that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources. Casten and his counterparts in the Senate, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., believe their... Read More
Ford, Volkswagen, BMW and Honda have reached a deal with California to increase gas mileage standards and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, setting a national standard, a longtime auto industry goal. The deal between the four automakers and the California Air Resources Board appears to offer a... Read More
WASHINGTON — Zipping along the Massachusetts Turnpike, unsuspecting tourists from other states encounter an electronic toll plaza. No problem: The transponder they bought in their home state registers the toll and deducts the amount from the account. But what most travelers don’t know is that the... Read More
WASHINGTON — Twenty-five of the 30 states President Donald Trump won in 2016 have received bigger shares of funding from a federal transportation program that has shifted to favoring rural projects over urban, according to a McClatchy analysis of Department of Transportation data. The Trump administration... Read More
WASHINGTON - Representatives Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Rick Larsen, D-Wash., chairman of that body's Aviation Subcommittee, want to know when Boeing and others first learned of a serious defect in the 737 MAX passenger jet, and why... Read More