November 17, 2020

In the Wake of the Boeing 737 MAX Tragedies, T&I Leaders Applaud House Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen FAA’s Certification Process and Improve the Aviation Regulatory System


The comprehensive bill, which was approved by the full Committee in September, includes nearly 30 provisions to strengthen the aircraft certification process, ensure transparency and accountability, address issues related to pilot training and cockpit automation, and lock in new requirements on the disclosure of safety-critical information

Washington, DC - Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) joined Subcommittee on Aviation Chair Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA) in applauding House passage of H.R. 8408, the “Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act,” their legislation to strengthen the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) aircraft certification process in response to the crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in a span of less than five months.

This bipartisan bill, which was introduced and subsequently approved by the T&I Committee earlier this Fall, would address problems identified in multiple reviews and investigations of the Boeing 737 MAX. Among other things, the “Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act” would require manufacturers to adopt safety management systems, lock in new requirements on the disclosure of safety-critical systems, strengthen FAA oversight of industry, expand whistleblower protections, require focused reviews of international pilot training, better account for human factors, and help the FAA recruit and retain skilled personnel.

“After our extensive 18-month investigation into the 737 MAX—culminating in the release of the Majority Staff’s final report just two months ago—I’m proud we are taking this important step today to fix the broken system that allowed Boeing to put profits over safety and push a flawed airplane through the regulatory process, ultimately leading to the deaths of 346 innocent people,” Chair DeFazio said. “While we can’t bring back the lives lost on Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, we owe it to their loved ones—and every member of the flying public and the aviation workforce—to make the necessary reforms to the system in order to improve public safety and ensure accountability at all levels. I look forward to working with the Senate to send a final bill to the president’s desk as quickly as possible.” [See video of Chair DeFazio speaking on the floor about the bill here.]

“This bill will help ensure the United States remains the gold standard in aviation safety and maintain our competitiveness in the aerospace sector,” Ranking Member Sam Graves said. “We were able to leave partisan politics at the door, adhere to the experts’ conclusions that our system should be improved but not dismantled, and thoughtfully address the multiple contributing factors involved in the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines tragedies that are within our control. I want to thank Chairman DeFazio, Chairman Larsen, Ranking Member Garret Graves, and the T&I Committee Members for their hard work to carry out our collective desire to address the expert recommendations and make our safe aviation system even safer.” [See video of Ranking Member Sam Graves speaking on the floor about the bill here.]

“Congress has an obligation to the 346 victims of the two Boeing 737 MAX crashes and their families, as well as the traveling public, to ensure the safety of air travel,” Chair Rick Larsen said. “This bipartisan bill helps restore the integrity of the aircraft certification process by improving aviation safety culture, enhancing transparency and integrating human factors to ensure pilots and flight crews can do their jobs safely. I will continue to work with Chair DeFazio, the Ranking Members and my colleagues to get the final bill across the finish line to improve aviation safety.” [See video of Chair Larsen speaking on the floor about the bill here.]

“The trust Americans have in air travel doesn’t happen by itself: It has to be earned, confirmed, and reinforced ongoingly,” Ranking Member Garret Graves said. “Cooperation and partnership between airlines, passengers, policymakers, government, and industry experts have produced our world-leading track record of aviation safety -- this legislation is a product of that same, rich tradition. We will continue to build on the success of this bipartisan effort and demonstrate that Americans’ confidence in air travel, including future technologies, is well-founded in an unmatched record of safety and reliability.” [See video of Ranking Member Garret Graves speaking on the floor about the bill here.]

The “Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act” has received broad public support from organizations throughout the aviation industry. Statements of support can be found here, and a full list of groups supporting this legislation can be found here.

Bill text and a section-by-section can be found here and here.