Friday, March 29, 2019

FAA: We Don’t Allow Companies to Police Themselves
Daniel K. Elwell
USA Today
March 28, 2019

During the 737 Max’s five-year certification, FAA safety engineers and test pilots put in 110,000 hours of work: Opposing view

Safety is at the core of the Federal Aviation Administration’s mission. It is our paramount priority. We work tirelessly, taking a proactive, data-driven approach to oversight. We instill safety — above all else — throughout the FAA, the aviation community we regulate and the world.

In the aftermath of the tragic accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia, some are questioning the FAA’s certification of the 737 Max and the proper role of delegation in that process.

I want to make clear that FAA does not allow companies to police themselves. The FAA is fully involved in the certification process. Organizational delegation is a process by which a manufacturer — under specific, FAA-quality-controlled oversight — can provide specialized information and understanding needed by the FAA to approve a product.

It is an approach that Congress has repeatedly directed FAA to embrace and expand.

During the 737 Max’s five-year certification, FAA safety engineers and test pilots put in 110,000 hours of work, and they flew or supported 297 test flights.

The recent accidents remain under investigation. It would be a mistake to rush to judgment about what caused them or what to do next. We must learn more about what happened to make sure we fix what went wrong.

In a recent column in USA TODAY, former Transportation Secretary Jim Burnley and former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Christopher Hart argued that safety regulators should continue making careful decisions backed by data. This proven approach has made the U.S. aviation system the safest in the world. In the past decade, more than 7 billion people have flown on 90 million commercial flights with a single fatality.

The FAA will go wherever the data take us to help understand and address what caused the recent accidents. We will return the 737 Max to service in the United States only when our analysis of the aircraft, pilot actions, maintenance and other factors confirms it’s safe to do so.

Daniel K. Elwell is acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

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