The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said that it would reform the procedure of certifying new airplanes in line with legislation passed by Congress after two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people. Lawmakers approved sweeping reforms in legislation signed into law by President Donald Trump that boosts FAA oversight of aircraft manufacturers, requires disclosure of critical safety information and provides new whistleblower protections. The FAA said in a statement that it “will work to implement the changes as directed by Congress. The FAA is committed to continuous advancement of aviation safety and improving our organisation, processes and culture.” An FAA survey released in August last year found some safety employees reported facing “strong” external pressure from the industry and raised alarms that the agency does not always prioritise air safety. The law authorises civil penalties against aviation manufacturer supervisors who interfere with employees acting on behalf of the FAA.
The FAA lifted the 20-month grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX last month and the aircraft has resumed commercial passenger flights in the United States (US). The US has not had a fatal passenger airline crash since February 2009 and has had only one fatality due to a US passenger airline accident in that period. The FAA credited the decline in fatalities in part “because the FAA established robust information-sharing programmes throughout the aviation industry that encouraged openness.”