Airbus withdraws from the FAA’s Boeing Safety Culture Panel


European aircraft maker Airbus said it had withdrawn from a US government-appointed panel that reviews Boeing’s safety processes and how they affect Boeing’s safety culture after two deadly 737 MAX crashes in recent years killed 346 people.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) panel appointed last week includes MIT lecturer and aerospace engineer Javier de Luis whose sister died in a MAX crash, as well as experts from NASA, the FAA, labor unions, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines , GE Aviation and FedEx Express.

Among the names mentioned was James Tidball, head of certification for Airbus Americas. Airbus said in a statement to Reuters that it appreciated the FAA’s acknowledgment of Tidball’s impartiality regarding safety, but given “the panel’s focus on one particular (Original Equipment Manufacturer, Tidball)…has decided to withdraw from this working group.

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The panel, which under a 2020 law required Congress to reform the way the FAA certifies new aircraft, has nine months to complete its review and make findings and recommendations. Congress directed the agency to appoint a panel in early 2021, but the FAA missed that TBEN.

A 2020 US House report said the 2018 and 2019 MAX crashes were “the horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing management, and grossly inadequate oversight by the FAA.”

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Boeing declined to comment at the panel last week, instead stressing that it has significantly reshaped its safety culture after the MAX crashes cost it more than $20 billion.

Last month, Congress voted to lift a December 27 TBEN for imposing a new safety standard for modern cockpit warnings on two new versions of the 737 MAX aircraft that could have jeopardized the future of those new models. Read the full story

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In May, the FAA elected to extend Boeing’s Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program for three years instead of the five years requested by Boeing.

The FAA continues to subject Boeing to enhanced surveillance and inspects all new Boeing 737 MAXs and 787s before they can be delivered.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Josie Kao)

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