Call for clarity on Conflict of Interest & use of ‘designees’ in Aviation Certification

Certification which deems an aircraft 'airworthy', is an important aspect of the Consumer Product

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Airworthy Aircraft EASA Certification Standards

This latest Press Release focusses on 5 further questions for EASA and Public Confidence

Frank Brehany’s recent press release, on the range of inquiries in the USA, into the certification of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, revealed deep concerns as to how aircraft are generally certified and declared airworthy.

The loss of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airways flights, subsequently demonstrated how the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), deployed the use of a ‘designee(s)’ within an aircraft manufacturing company. The role of a ‘designee(s) is to certify the ‘build’ of its aircraft and for that aircraft to be ultimately classed as airworthy. As we have seen, the issues in the United States appear to be subject to a number of inquiries, including an investigation by the Department for Justice.

Aviation manufacturing is dominated by two major global players; Boeing (United States) and Airbus (Europe). As a result of the concerns and revelations in the United States, Frank Brehany considered that it was important for Public Confidence reasons, that there should be an open and transparent conversation about the use or potential use of a ‘designee(s)’ in the European aircraft manufacturing and certification environment.

Frank presented 5 key questions about the use of a ‘designee(s)’ for certification of new and operating aircraft and publicly asked the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), to openly respond. To date, Frank has received no reply from EASA.

Frank believes that it is important to confront the ‘designee’ issue, not only for Public Confidence reasons, but also to ensure that European Aviation manufacturing remains at its most competitive but above all, safe.

Frank considers that it is necessary for EASA to also respond to these further questions:

  1. Where EASA deploys or appoints a ‘designee(s)’, within an Aviation manufacturing company, does it accept that there is a strong potential for a conflict of interest arising?
  2. Where an individual(s) is/are appointed to act as a ‘designee(s), what steps are taken to examine and correct the potential conflict arising from that appointment (for example, conflict could arise from a shareholding, seniority or previous complaints about their standard of work)?
  3. Where an individual(s) is/are appointed to act as a ‘designee(s)’, how are they expected to  guarantee that they will not allow a conflict of interest to arise during their certification work?
  4. Given the real potential for conflict of interest, what steps are taken to ensure that EASA employee’s, who manage the work of appointed ‘designees’, are not themselves caught within a conflict of interest situation (for example, conflict could arise from a shareholding, being previously employed by the ‘designees’ company or indeed their own skill-set for the work that is to be carried out by the ‘designee’)?
  5. Finally, given the important potential for Conflict of Interest, how many complaints have EASA received from their own employees or from 3rd parties between 1990 to the present day and how have such complaints been resolved?

Frank Brehany, the Independent Consumer Campaigner & Commentator states:

“It is not surprising that I have not received responses to my initial questions, this is such an important issue, not just for Consumers but also for the global reach of European Aviation. I have asked 5 additional questions in the hope that the wider Public Interest is satisfied. I would also invite members of Aviation in Europe to message me about their concerns on Aviation certification. Any contact will be received and dealt with in the strictest of confidence; it is my view that we in Europe can lead the way on Aviation safety. Some may fear that these questions and subject matter is a Pandora’s Box that should not be opened; I disagree - this is an opportunity!”