As a number of lawmakers continue to question the FAA’s use of delegation in the wake of the Boeing 737 Max accidents, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) is stressing the need to continue to support the organization designation authorization (ODA) program, vowing, “We do not intend to turn our back on that issue.”
Speaking yesterday at the Aero Club of Washington, D.C., Moran acknowledged the substantial number of conversations now surrounding manufacturing certification. “ODA remains an important component of the way…we are going to meet technological changes and the demands in the markets to advance innovation,” he said. “The FAA doesn’t have the capabilities to certify every new product. We have to rely on the private sector with FAA oversight to do this correctly.”
Moran, who is a senior member of both the Senate Appropriations and Commerce Committees, added that with any changes that might come as facts arise, “we will continue to be an advocate.” He added that, over the past 10 years, there has been an effort to expand delegations, not contract them. “That process is critical to the industry. We’d be in serious trouble if we were relying only on the FAA,” he said.
Moran later told AIN that there must be a considerable education effort on Capitol Hill on the importance of ODA. Concerning to him is the perception issue that is arising out of the public dialog surrounding the ODA issues.
His comments came a day before the Senate transportation appropriations subcommittee took its turn delving into the issue. On Wednesday, key FAA officials faced questions from Senate appropriators about reports that the FAA relied on delegation for 96 percent of the certification work on the Max and whether timelines became more important than safety.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), the ranking member of the Senate transportation appropriations subcommittee, expressed concern about allegations that too much deference is given to the industry and that the regulatory process is broken. The allegations “speak to the need for a culture change that rebalances the relationship between the regulator and industry,” Reed said.
Senate General Aviation Caucus co-chair Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), in discussing the Max, said, “We have relied on industry more than we should” and suggested that every executive of Boeing fly on the Max as it returns to service before the public does.
Ali Bahrami, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, responded that designees take their work very seriously. “I know what it is to be a designee. It is a badge of honor that the greatest safety agency in the world [says] that you are trusted. It is a highlight of a career…Delegation is sound.”
But he also said, “Despite the strong spotlight, we welcome the scrutiny because it will make us stronger.” Bahrami added the FAA welcomes recommendations to improve the process. He further said the agency is “following a thorough process, not a prescriptive timeline” for the review of the Max.