Congressman García Votes to Strengthen Aviation Safety

September 30, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC - Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, issued the following statement following committee-passage of the bipartisan H.R. 8408 Aircraft Certificate Reform & Accountability Act, legislation to strengthen aviation safety following two deadly crashes involving the Boeing 737 MAX.

This bill reflects many of the findings outlined in the Majority Staff’s recently-released report on the design, development, and certification of the Boeing 737 MAX, one of which crashed in October 2018 and the other of which crashed in March 2019, taking a combined 346 lives. Both crashes were caused by a faulty design that placed both airplanes into unrecoverable dives. The legislation also incorporates a bipartisan bill to improve analysis of human factors, analysis that was recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and is needed as airplanes become increasingly automated. The comprehensive bill was considered during a full committee markup earlier today.

“As a result of corporate greed and failed federal oversight, 346 innocent lives were lost.  By advancing the Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act, we end the conflicts of interests that enabled Boeing employees to inspect their own products on behalf of government inspectors. Boeing and the FAA must be held accountable for the 737 MAX tragedies and today our committee did just that,” said Rep. Chuy García. “Our number one priority must remain the health and safety of the flying public, especially when public confidence in aviation safety is at an all-time low due to the Coronavirus pandemic.”

Among other things, the “Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act:”

  • Reforms and improves the FAA’s process for certifying new airplane designs;
  • Requires U.S. aircraft and aerospace industry manufacturers to adopt safety management systems, which include safety reporting programs for their employees;
  • Requires an expert review panel to evaluate Boeing’s safety culture and to make recommendations for improvements;
  • Requires manufacturers to complete system safety assessments for significant design changes, to ensure that risk calculations are based on realistic assumptions of pilot response time, and to share risk assessments with the FAA;
  • Requires the FAA to revise and improve the agency’s process for amending type certificates of older airplane designs to add new derivatives and ensure harmonization with the processes of other international states of design;
  • Creates a Call to Action on pilot training to assess, among other things, global pilots’ manual flying skills and effectiveness in managing automation to improve safety;
  • Prohibits a transport-category aircraft manufacturer’s failure to disclose to the FAA, airlines, and pilots, detailed information on systems such as MCAS that can alter an airplane’s flightpath without pilot command and other augmentation and autoflight systems;
  • Prohibits delivery of airplanes that do not conform to their FAA-approved type designs, except when the non-conformity was unintentional, does not erode safety by any measure, is fully disclosed to the FAA and customer, and corrected within a specified timeframe;
  • Extends airline whistleblower protections to U.S. manufacturing employees so these employees can report safety concerns without fear of reprisal by their employers;
  • Requires FAA approval of new Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) unit members beginning one year after enactment, and imposes a civil penalty against those individuals within a company who interfere with a unit member’s performance of their FAA-authorized duties; and
  • Authorizes more resources to recruit new and retain FAA certification-related personnel. 

The bill text can be found here, and a section-by-section can be found here.

Additional background:

  • On May 15, 2019, at a hearing of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Congressman Garcia pressed the FAA and NTSB to disclose the safety procedures Boeing followed prior to the 737 MAX accidents.
  • On October 30, 2019 Congressman García asked for Boeing’s CEO to resign.
  • On December 23, 2019, Congressman García issued the following statement regarding the resignation of Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg.