Press Release: Public Confidence in Air Transport: Questions for EASA?

The recent Ethiopian Airways crash of their Boeing Max 8 Aircraft, brought early comparisons to the Lion Air crash in Indonesia.

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Boeing 737 Max8 Flight Safety Regulators EASA FAA

Whilst it is still early days following the Ethiopian disaster, and data has yet to be fully analysed,

it has become clear that disquiet over the two disasters has led in the end to a temporary worldwide ban on the operation of this type of aircraft.

However, the Irish newspaper, the Independent, has carried a report, stemming from an investigation carried out by the Seattle Times, into how Boeing aircraft are certified and allowed to enter into operational service.

The investigation has apparently found that “US regulators allowed Boeing engineers to carry out much of the safety assessments on their own new plane”. Importantly, the Seattle Times submitted questions, both to Boeing and the US Regulator, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), 11 days before the Ethiopian crash about the certification process.

The report further identifies that the US Department of Justice is now carrying out its own investigation into the development of the 737 Max aircraft and are apparently using a Grand Jury to determine questions and issues.

In addition, an investigation carried out by the US Department of Transportation in 2012, found that FAA employees complained of retaliation if they spoke up about the manner in which certification was carried out; the report makes very clear those concerns and about the accountability of the certification process.

These revelations and allegations raise important questions that should be addressed on European Safety and Regulation of Aircraft. The swirl of allegations in the USA could suggest that there may exist, within the economic imperative, the attraction of delegating certification to designees outside of the regulatory enforcing environment.

It is important to set out that European Aviation Safety & Operations is governed by Basic Regulation and is supplemented by a host of ‘non-binding’ Standards, which if followed, determines that an European Manufacturer or Airline will be compliant. Whilst the new Basic Regulation imports a more robust enforcing regime, it appears that we are some way off from seeing its affect whilst this provision is implemented.

In order to demonstrate Public Confidence in the Aviation product, it is therefore necessary to ask key questions of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA):

  1. In light of the allegations currently being laid before Boeing and the FAA, can EASA confirm whether they have ever allowed ‘designees’, who work outside of the regulatory structure, to complete the regulatory process of certification of an aircraft or parts or software of an aircraft?
  2. If non-regulatory ‘designees’ have been appointed to carry out the completion of the certification process on behalf of EASA, what oversight of their analysis, inspection, testing and certification has been carried out by EASA?
  3. Can EASA advise how many times ‘designees’ have been used for certification purposes between 1990 and the present day?
  4. For the same period, can EASA advise how many times they have had to intervene in any certification process carried out by a ‘designee’, to ensure that such a certification complies with Regulation?
  5. Finally, can EASA advise how many ‘regulatory employees’, both in EASA and within National Enforcement Bodies of the Member States, have complained about the methodologies deployed either by ‘designees’, aircraft manufacturers, engine manufacturers, fuel manufacturers and airlines and their application of the certification process, between 1990 and the present day?

Frank Brehany, an Independent Consumer Campaigner & Commentator states:

“The crashes of two Boeing 737 Max8 aircraft were both shocking events, but the pre and post aftermath in the United States, brings into sharp focus, the role of Regulators. Given the allegations made against the FAA and Boeing, it is important to turn attention to our own European Regulator, EASA. I have asked 5 key questions of EASA, designed to reassure and support Public Confidence, about the certification of European manufactured and operating aircraft. It is important that I ask these questions, not just for UK Consumers but for all European Consumers. I am certain that EASA. the European Commission, Manufacturers and Airlines would want to demonstrate that Consumers should have full confidence in the initial and continuing certification of the Aviation product”