Airbus is withdrawing from the FAA’s Boeing Safety Culture Panel

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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – European plane maker Airbus said it has withdrawn from a U.S. government-appointed panel to review Boeing’s safety processes and their impact on Boeing’s safety culture after two fatal 737 MAX in recent years – Crash killed 346 people.

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

Among those mentioned was James Tidball, Head of Certification for Airbus Americas. Airbus said in a statement to Reuters that it appreciated the FAA’s recognition of Tidball’s impartiality when it comes to safety, but given the panel’s “focus on one particular”.[original equipment manufacturer, Tidball]… has decided to withdraw from this working group.”

The panel, which asked Congress to reform the FAA’s certification of new aircraft under a 2020 law, has nine months to complete its review and make findings and recommendations. Congress ordered the agency to appoint a board by early 2021, but the FAA missed that deadline.

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

Boeing declined to comment on the panel last week, but previously insisted it had significantly reformed its safety culture after the MAX crashes cost it more than $20 billion.

Last month, Congress voted to lift a December 27 deadline to introduce a new safety standard for modern cockpit warnings for two new versions of the 737 MAX plane that could have jeopardized the future of these new models.

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

The FAA continues to subject Boeing to increased scrutiny, inspecting all new Boeing 737 MAX and 787 aircraft before they can be delivered.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Josie Kao)


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