October 05, 2020

Support Builds for the “Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act”

The bipartisan legislation, which advanced out of Committee last week, would strengthen the FAA’s certification process and improve the regulatory process in the wake of the two deadly Boeing 737 MAX crashes

Washington, DC- The list of groups coming out in support of the bipartisan “Aircraft Certification and Accountability Act” continues to grow. The bill, introduced last week by Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), Subcommittee on Aviation Chair Rick Larsen (D-WA), and Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA) was advanced by voice vote during a Committee markup and now moves to the House floor.

Here’s what organizations in the aviation industry are saying:

Captain Joe DePete, Air Line Pilots Association, International: “As the largest nongovernmental air safety organization in the world, the safety of our passengers and cargo is always the top priority for ALPA. An open and transparent safety culture is necessary to achieve the highest standards. The recently introduced Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act is a comprehensive, bipartisan measure that puts in place the critical reforms needed to ensure a proactive and objective safety culture at all levels. The bill is responsive to the gravity of the recent tragedies and takes into account the details from the accident investigation reports. We are grateful for the leadership of Representative Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, for introducing this critical legislation and for his steadfast commitment to the safety of our passengers, cargo, and crews.

“We are especially pleased that the pilots who will be operating and managing the flights using these aircraft will be an integral part of the certification process, ensuring that all newly developed and certificated aircraft will be held to the highest levels of safety necessary to keep our aviation system the safest in the world.”

AFA-CWA: “The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) supports the introduction of H.R. 8408, the Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act, to address many of the egregious airplane certification and safety problems uncovered in the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s September 2020 Report on the Design, Development and Certification of the Boeing 737 MAX.  This bill provides a program for employees to report hazards and concerns about airplane safety and certification without fear of retribution, and an expert panel to review holders of an FAA Organization Designation Authorization (ODA), in order to recommend safety improvements to the FAA, including suspension or termination of an ODA. AFA has called for the critical provision of FAA employee funding authorization, as well as staff recruitment/retention provisions to ensure that the FAA has sufficient staff resources to effectively oversee ODAs. We are grateful to Congressman DeFazio for his leadership in the thorough investigation of what led to the 737 MAX tragedies and his authorship of this bill in order to restore safety of FAA airplane certification process and public confidence in the safety of air travel and manufacturing.”

Captain Larry Rooney, President of the Coalition for Airline Pilots Associations: “Aviation safety is a direct result of the continued collaborative efforts of all stakeholders to ensure that the safety of the traveling public remains paramount. This common-sense legislation will help to ensure that pilots are fully knowledgeable of the imbedded systems and sub-systems contained within their aircraft that could affect flight safety. The greatest safety component on any aircraft is a well informed and trained pilot.”

Paul Rinaldi, President, National Air Traffic Controllers Association: “This bipartisan bill takes several important steps toward enhancing the safety culture within the FAA, while improving the Agency’s oversight and certification process,” Rinaldi said. “The bill would initiate a comprehensive review of all ODA participants and would empower the Administrator with authority to implement corrective actions that are necessary to improve the ODA program. We thank Chairman DeFazio and Ranking Member Graves, as well as Chairman Larsen and Ranking Member Graves, and applaud them for their leadership in shepherding this important piece of bipartisan legislation. It has our full support.”

Trish Gilbert, Executive Vice President, NATCA: “The bill is a critical leap forward for the nearly 700 aviation safety professionals that NATCA represents within the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service. The bill would authorize funds to improve recruitment and retention incentives for engineers and other aviation safety specialists who oversee and certify transport aircraft and engines. The bill also prioritizes professional development and skills enhancement for these employees by establishing a regular, recurrent training program.”

Steve Hansen, National Safety Committee Chairman, NATCA: “This bill further prioritizes aviation safety by creating a new voluntary safety reporting program that would cover employees in the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service. This new program will enhance the current safety reporting program so that it is as comprehensive as the program we jointly administer with the FAA for air traffic controllers as well as the programs jointly administered by pilot unions and each air carrier.”

Professional Aviation Safety Specialists: “For years, PASS has called upon the FAA and Congress to reexamine the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program, as direct FAA involvement in certification has been significantly reduced and more oversight has been turned over to industry. PASS has asked the FAA to put the brakes on expanding ODA, as called for in the 2018 FAA reauthorization. While the system is not entirely broken, holes have developed that jeopardize aviation safety and the flying public. The Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act takes the much needed steps to close those holes and ensure that aircraft manufactured in the United States are held to the highest standards. PASS supports this legislation as it increases the agency’s oversight role and authority in the certification process while empowering FAA employees with the tools, skills and resources to keep pace with new and emerging technology.”

Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace: “SPEEA applauds Chairman DeFazio’s inclusion of engineer and ODA unit member expertise in the latest aircraft certification reform bill. With improved communication channels and new whistleblower protections for frontline manufacturing employees, this bill will offer our members improved tools to ensure safety and transparency in the certification process.” 

Larry Willis, President, Transportation Trades Dept.: "As we continue our work to see the U.S. airline industry through the current public health and economic crises, it is more important than ever for the flying public to have full confidence in aircraft safety.  This legislation takes critical steps to increase oversight of aircraft certification, close safety loopholes, and ensure that federal regulators have the tools and resources needed to do their jobs effectively.  Passage of this legislation will help ensure that the U.S. aviation system remains the safest in the world."    

John Samuelson, President, Transport Workers Union International: The TWU was the first union to call for the 737-MAX to be grounded because our members did not trust that the aircraft was safe. Over the past 18 months, it has become clear that the MAX was approved using a flawed process that intentionally took advantage of systemic problems at the FAA in order to avoid safety requirements. The bipartisan Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act directly addresses these concerns and makes permanent changes to the way we certify aircraft. On behalf of the flight attendants on these planes, the pilot instructors who train for every potential scenario, the aircraft mechanics who maintain this equipment, and our many other members who fly as part of their job, the TWU thanks Chairman DeFazio and Ranking Member Graves for their commitment to air safety at every level and we applaud their leadership on behalf of airline workers.”

Groups supporting the “Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act” include:

ALPA (Air Line Pilots Association, International)

APA (Allied Pilots Association)

AFA-CWA (Association of Flight Attendants-CWA)

CAPA (Coalition of Airline Pilots Association)

IAM (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers)

IFPTE (International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers)

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

NATCA (National Air Traffic Controllers Association)

PASS (Professional Aviation Safety Specialists)

SPEEA (Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace)

SWAPA (Southwest Airlines Pilots Association)

TTD (Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO)

TWU (Transport Workers Union)

[List will be continuously updated]

For more information on the “Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act,” click here.