FAA Misled Congress On Inspector Training, Federal Investigator Finds

September 25, 2019by Jessica Wehrman
Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are parked along the west side of Boeing Field in Seattle as the company awaits FAA approval for the jets to return to service in June 2019. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times/TNS)

WASHINGTON — A federal investigator has told President Donald Trump that Federal Aviation Administration safety inspectors “lacked proper training and accreditation” to certify pilots, including those flying the Boeing 737 Max, putting air travelers at risk.

Special counsel Henry J. Kerner also wrote in the letter Monday the FAA appears to have misled Congress in its responses to questions about employee training and competency leading up to grounding of 737 Max jets in March.

“The FAA’s failure to ensure inspector competency for these aircraft subjected the flying public to substantial and significant danger,” Kerner wrote in the letter, which was also sent to members of Congress.

The U.S. grounded Boeing 737 Max jets in March after two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed 346 people. The crashes were largely blamed on a faulty system that erroneously reported that the airplane was stalling, but some pilots have complained that they were not appropriately briefed about the system and its risks.

Kerner, whose office was responding to a whistleblower report from an FAA safety inspector, said that the FAA appeared to “obfuscate” concerns about the preparation of safety inspectors.

“The FAA is entrusted with the critically important role of ensuing aircraft safety,” Kerner added in a statement. “The FAA’s failure to ensure safety inspector competency for these aircraft puts the flying public at risk.”

Kerner’s letter said safety inspectors participate in formal classroom and on-the-job training. But the investigation found that 16 of 22 safety inspectors had not completed formal training. And it found 11 of the 16 under trained safety inspectors did not have Certified Flight Instructor certificates — a requirement for the job. Among the under trained inspectors were some assigned to the 737 Max.

The whistleblower reported that under trained inspectors nonetheless administered hundreds of certifications that permitted pilots to operate aircraft including the 737 max.

The FAA, in response to questions from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on April 4, 2019, said “all of the flight inspectors who participated in the Boeing 737 Max Flight Standardization Board certification activities were fully qualified for these activities,” Kerner wrote.

The FAA, in a written response, said it was reviewing the special counsel’s letter.

“We remain confident in our representations to Congress and in the work of our aviation safety professionals,” the statement read. “Aviation safety is always our foremost priority, and we look forward to responding to the concerns that have been raised.”

———

©2019 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Visit CQ Roll Call at www.rollcall.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Aviation

Aviation Reform Bill Introduced in Response to 737Max Crashes
Aviation
Aviation Reform Bill Introduced in Response to 737Max Crashes
June 19, 2020
by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON – Two senators serving on the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation introduced legislation designed to improve aviation safety following two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.  Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the committee, jointly announced... Read More

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg Resigns from Troubled Planemaker
Aviation
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg Resigns from Troubled Planemaker

CHICAGO — Dennis Muilenburg was ousted as chief executive officer of Boeing Co., a once-unthinkable turning point for a U.S. industrial champion engulfed in turmoil after two deadly crashes of its top-selling 737 Max jetliner. David Calhoun, who had served as chairman since October, will replace... Read More

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to Step Down Immediately
Aviation
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to Step Down Immediately

Boeing's CEO is resigning amid ongoing problems at the company over the troubled Max 737 aircraft. The Chicago manufacturer said Monday that Dennis Muilenburg is stepping down immediately. The board's current chairman David Calhoun will officially take over on January 13. The board said a change... Read More

Boeing Whistleblower’s Complaint Says 737 Max Safety Upgrades Were Rejected Over Cost
Aviation
Boeing Whistleblower’s Complaint Says 737 Max Safety Upgrades Were Rejected Over Cost

SEATTLE — Seven weeks after the second fatal crash of a 737 Max in March, a Boeing engineer submitted a scathing internal ethics complaint alleging that management — determined to keep down costs for airline customers — had blocked significant safety improvements during the jet’s development.... Read More

Appropriators Seek Clarity On Aircraft Inspector Qualifications
Aviation
Appropriators Seek Clarity On Aircraft Inspector Qualifications

WASHINGTON — Top Senate appropriators pressed the Federal Aviation Administration chief to respond after a federal investigator found that safety inspectors lacked sufficient training to certify Boeing 737 Max pilots. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Jack Reed, D-R.I., the chairwoman and ranking member of the Senate Transportation-HUD... Read More

FAA Misled Congress On Inspector Training, Federal Investigator Finds
Aviation
FAA Misled Congress On Inspector Training, Federal Investigator Finds

WASHINGTON — A federal investigator has told President Donald Trump that Federal Aviation Administration safety inspectors “lacked proper training and accreditation” to certify pilots, including those flying the Boeing 737 Max, putting air travelers at risk. Special counsel Henry J. Kerner also wrote in the letter... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top