Federal air safety regulators may get more involved in the design of new planes from the beginning as part of a fundamental shift in how new aircraft are certified to fly.
Federal Aviation Administrator Stephen Dickson said in an interview over the weekend with The Wall Street Journal that regulators could be a bigger part of the initial design process in an effort to force more consideration for certain “human” safety factors.
More Holistic Approach
Dickson has been pushing for a more “holistic” approach to certifying aircraft, a process that has come under more scrutiny during the investigation of crashes of Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) 737 MAX airplanes that killed 346 people and have resulted in the grounding of the aircraft.
...integrating human factors considerations more effectively throughout the design process, as aircraft become more automated and systems more complex, and
ensuring coordinated and flexible information flow during the oversight process,” #FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.
— The FAA (@FAANews) November 17, 2019
“The current approach is you’re answering all these questions and then it’s, ‘OK FAA, here’s my final exam. Grade my paper,’’’ Dickson told the WSJ.
"That’s the transactional approach. The holistic approach is more of a dialogue as you go through the process.”
Dickson didn't get more specific, and has said he wants to wait until the 737 MAX is flying again before taking on an overhaul of the way the government approves new planes for service.
FAA Model Scrutinized
While Boeing has born the brunt of the scrutiny over the crashes of the two planes that has now kept the aircraft model grounded for eight months, the FAA also has come in for criticism over the certification process, particularly for how it essentially allows industry engineers and experts to make some decisions on behalf of the regulatory agency, rather than having regulators closely involved at certain steps of the process.
Boeing shares were down 0.9% at $368.25 at the time of publication Monday.
Photo by SounderBruce via Wikimedia.