By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday it is expanding the use of independent safety expert groups when certifying commercial aircraft.
The FAA said it is expanding use of Technical Advisory Boards (TAB) to help ensure it has a “consistent and thorough approach for all aircraft certification projects.”
The FAA convened a TAB soon after the second Boeing 737 MAX crash in March 2019 to assist it in the review of the grounded airplane. Boeing did not immediately comment Monday.
The FAA plans to establish the boards earlier in the certification process and use them on aircraft that are largely the same as current models that are typically referred to as derivative aircraft.
The FAA has a board in place for the certification review of the Boeing 777X.
The boards look at a number of issues including identifying new technologies or designs “that could be catastrophic if they failed,” the FAA said, and to determine “whether similar systems have caused problems on other aircraft” and to ensure the proper FAA offices were involved in the certification process.
The FAA said the changes go beyond the requirements Congress imposed in December 2020 when Congress approved legislation boosting FAA oversight of aircraft manufacturers, requiring disclosure of critical safety information and providing new whistleblower protections.
Boeing continues to face scrutiny from the FAA following two fatal 737 MAX crashes in the space of five months in 2018-2019 that killed 346 people.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told Congress last year the FAA is delegating fewer responsibilities to Boeing for aircraft certification. He told the committee the FAA is “demanding more transparency” from manufacturers.
The FAA is currently scrutinizing a number of issues involving Boeing airplanes. The FAA said earlier this month it will retain authority to issue airworthiness certificates for Boeing 787s until it is confident “Boeing’s quality control and manufacturing processes consistently produce” planes that meet FAA “design standards.”
(Reporting by David ShepardsonEditing by Marguerita Choy)