FAA Chief Vows Improved Safety Reviews of New Aircrafts and Pilot Technology

Aviation regulators around the world need to do a better job of assessing hazards in aircraft designs and understanding how pilots might be tripped up by complex technology in the wake of the two fatal crashes on Boeing Co.’s 737 Max, the chief of the Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, speaking before the Aero Club of Washington, said the agency is addressing concerns raised by several reviews of the crashes that killed 346 people after a safety system on the plane went haywire.

“Going forward beyond the Max, some key things are emerging regarding aircraft certification processes, not only in the U.S. but around the world,” Dickson told the aviation organization. “I’m committed to addressing each of these issues.”

Dickson identified three areas: moving to a more “holistic rather than transactional, line-by-line item approach”; integrating so-called “human factors” issues in designs so pilots are less likely to be tripped up by complex technical systems; and ensuring a better flow of information within different arms of FAA.

A final report by Indonesian investigators found that Boeing and FAA expected pilots to react to problems on the Max faster than they actually did. Parts of FAA were more aware than others of the design involved in the accidents, which hindered the ability to assess its safety, the investigation found. Those findings were echoed in documents released by Congress.

Dickson offered no specifics on the potential changes in aircraft certification and the agency hasn’t announced a formal process to rewrite its regulations.

Boeing said Monday it hopes FAA will approve its redesign of the 737 Max by the end of this year and write new training standards for the plane in January. It will still take airlines weeks or even months longer to get their planes back in the air.