Senate Committee Unveils Aerospace Whistleblower Report

Senate Committee Unveils Aerospace Whistleblower Report

( – In the wake of two successive fatal accidents involving Boeing 737 Max aircraft, the aerospace industry underwent serious scrutiny. In December 2020, Congress passed significant reforms, many of which the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is still rolling out.

Now, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has released a report on December 13, based on information gathered from seven industry whistleblowers from Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and GE. Under Committee leader Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the group deduced there are serious safety oversights within the aerospace industry that call for the attention of the FAA.

Report Highlights

The main finding from the review was that the FAA is allegedly failing to maintain control over the certification process and losing its authority by giving this control away to companies and organizations. The lack of oversight may introduce serious safety concerns within the industry.

According to the report, there are critical issues within the FAA certification process, specifically the Boeing organization designation authorization (ODA) program. The ODA allows the FAA to give authority to companies or organizations to carry out inspections, testing, and exams and to issue certificates.

Whistleblowers said there is increasing pressure on engineers and staff due to a shortage of workers at Boeing and GE. They said the FAA also failed to equip the Seattle office with the proper number of safety engineers to oversee the Boeing ODA program.

Problems within the ODA programs raise questions about the validity of anything done under them. It also increases the likelihood safety is not a priority.

There were discussions about gaps in the process allowing airplane designs that don’t meet current standards. The FAA stands accused of enabling aircraft to run on outdated standards.

The whistleblowers met with the committee multiple times to relay the gathered information and allow the members to put together a list of recommendations for the FAA.

Senate Committee Recommendations

Senator Cantwell encouraged the FAA to review the whistleblower accusations and implement immediate changes to improve safety within the industry. Furthermore, the report also asks for better implementation and focus on the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act.

The committee requested an increase in FAA oversight of the ODA, specifically concerning the issues with the Boeing program. The senators also tasked the organization with reviewing the Boeing Aviation Safety Oversight Office staff levels to correct any problems. Finally, they recommended the FAA conduct an annual safety culture assessment.

The serious accusations against the FAA and industry is a concern for all Americans. When safety is lacking within the industry, it can increase the potential for accidents or other critical issues with aircraft. The ultimate goal has to be complete safety compliance to eliminate the loss of human life.

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