The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS), welcomed the preliminary findings of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in the two crashes of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in 2018 and 2019. The union represents 11,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Defense who install, maintain, support and certify air traffic control and national defense equipment, and inspect and oversee the commercial and general aviation industries.
The preliminary findings, titled “The Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft: Costs, Consequences, and Lessons from its Design, Development, and Certification,” were released on Friday.
“PASS, and the employees we represent, have been cooperating with the committee’s investigators and will continue to do so until all the factors contributing to the tragic accidents have been uncovered,” said PASS National President Mike Perrone. “We thank Committee Chair Peter DeFazio and Aviation Subcommittee Chair Rick Larsen for their leadership on this important issue,” he continued.
PASS-represented aviation safety inspectors in the FAA’s Flight Standards Service division issue certificates and approvals for individuals and entities to operate in the National Airspace System. While FAA inspectors and engineers are integral in the certification process, individual and organizational designees are often granted authority to conduct certification activities on behalf of the FAA through the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program. This is one of the areas that is being investigated by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“The dedicated public servants we represent at the FAA are often hamstrung by the ODA process,” said President Perrone. “They are expertly skilled and trained aviation safety inspectors but often they are significantly removed from critical portions of the certification process.”
PASS has long been opposed to the expansion of the ODA program and in light of the crashes that took the lives of 346 people, called on the FAA’s associate administrator for aviation safety to put the brakes on expansion until all of the investigations have been completed. In a letter sent to Ali Bahrami on May 13, 2019, President Perrone wrote: “There are major gaps in the delegation processes and oversight methods that have resulted in aircraft accidents and fatalities. PASS believes that these accidents are indicators of the risks that over delegation has introduced.” Perrone later testified in front of the House Aviation Subcommittee, alongside family members of those lost in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, about the rapidly expanding delegation process and expressed concern that increased delegation was further removing FAA inspectors from the certification process.
PASS continues to believe a pause in the current expansion of the ODA program, as called for in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization legislation, is appropriate so that the process can be fully evaluated.
The union and the employees it represents at the FAA will continue to cooperate with all the investigations surrounding the Boeing 737 MAX. If, as a result, there are changes made to the aircraft certification process, “Our members will comply with those changes with expediency and transparency to ensure the United States has the safest aviation system in the world,” Perrone said.