Update on FAA’s and Boeing’s Remedial Actions on Aircraft Certification

Share this article: FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Various reports point to remedial actions for FAA and Boeing

Dickson initiates improvement in Certification Engineering and Human Factors

Calhoun’s upgrading of Certification and ODA not as apparent

Few Aviation Safety matters have received as much attention as the FAA’s Certification of the Boeing 737 Max 8. Appointed and Self-Anointed critics have listed a multitude of remedial steps which each should implement. It is difficult to detect what either is doing internally, although the FAA, as a government agency, must place many of its actions on the public record. Based on what can be discerned, here are Updates on both:

  1. FAA

FAA to Hire More Data Scientists, Software Engineers Under 737 MAX Certification Reform

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will hire more software and systems engineers, human factors experts and other technological subject matter experts as a way of improving how the agency certifies increasingly complex avionics and other systems into the future, after a review of how the 737 MAX was certified showed the need for more personnel with new skill sets.

… FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson discussed changes the agency plans to make to its process for certifying complex flight control and other aircraft systems, as well as the way it will assess such technology, during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing on Wednesday.

Safety is a journey, not a destination—a journey we undertake each and every day with humility. Today’s unprecedented U.S. safety record was built on the willingness of aviation professionals to embrace hard lessons and to proactively seek continuous improvement…

Human factors considerations are an important part of the machine design process, which will need to take into account safety and performance levels of human users. As aircraft systems become more complex and the level of automation increases, the integration of human factors into the design of aircraft will be increasingly important.  Human factors considerations must include trained and qualified personnel who will be responsible for operating and maintaining these increasingly safe and complex aircraft. 

Workforce of the Future

In order to meet the safety needs of a rapidly evolving aerospace system, the FAA will need to recruit, hire, maintain, and retain a workforce with the necessary technical expertise, capabilities, and adaptability. Our efforts must ensure that we are able to hire and retain the right people with the right skills and mindset, engaged at the right time, with systemic coordination between certification and operational suitability.

Dickson’s comments show swift action by the agency to add experts with newer technological skill sets, a key recommendation featured in the January report published by the independent special committee tasked with reviewing the certification process followed by the FAA and Boeing for the 737 MAX program.  The report recommended a transformation of the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service (AIR), to include hiring personnel with backgrounds in data analytics, systems engineering, operations research and program management to keep pace with the growth in complexity of new certification projects.

In February, the FAA published its 2021 budget request, $17.5 billion, including $10 million assigned to adding 50 new technical employees. This would be the first phase of an increased hiring effort, as the agency actually expects to need a total of 236 new safety critical and safety technical positions[1].

cert engineer hire notice

to recruit system safety engineers, software engineers, as well as additional human factors experts,” Dickson said.

There will also be increased coordination between the FAA’s flight standards division and AIR in future certification projects. Another change from the agency is a focus on integrating the FAA’s aircraft evaluation group pilots into the overall certification process earlier. Pilots from the evaluation group are to start receiving more training on system safety assessments and certification procedures so that they have more visibility over the type of issues maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) presented to Ethiopian and Lion Air pilots.

…“Bolstering our human factors expertise, so there is a workforce component, in addition to working with academia and NASA on these issues, involving our pilots and our flight standards group, aircraft evaluation group into the cert process at an earlier and more integrated point, in the process will allow us to take a more holistic view of the role of the human in aircraft design,” Dickson said…

Credit to Administrator Dickson, his testimony is being translated into action. The above hiring notices were published in record time, especially considering the cumbersome federal processes. The FAA>Safety headline reinforces the emphasis on the human factors by highlighting the offices and experts who perform these critical function. For example,

    A particularly useful approach to leveraging the collective brainpower within AVS has been with the formation of an AVS Human Factors Coordination Team (HFCT). Triannual HFCT meetings bring together all the pertinent parties to discuss ongoing projects and requests, and to see where assistance and/or resources may be reallocated or where they could overlap. Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Flight Deck Human Factors, Dr. Kathy Abbott, chairs the AVS HFCTYou can read more on Dr. Abbott in this issue’s FAA Faces department at the link below.

Dr. Kathy AbbottDr. Kathy Abbott

Faces: FAA employee profile


One of the larger groups of human factors support is in the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service (AIR). The primary role of AIR human factors specialists is to develop human factors regulations and guidance on aircraft systems and to support certification projects. Also, they serve as subject matter experts on projects involving human factors issues with a new flight deck system, a new aircraft, or an alteration to an existing aircraft. Human factors specialists often focus on flight deck systems, but may also address other aspects of an aircraft, such as identifying human factors issues with flight controls and aircraft handling characteristics. A key reference is the Human Factors Considerations in the Design and Evaluation of Flight Deck Displays and Controls V 2.0 (bit.ly/HFCFDD), a one-stop-shop for human factors-related regulatory and guidance material for aircraft certification.

human factors

The 4,000 word article reviews the large, multidisciplinary team resident throughout the FAA



The Joint Authorities Technical Review , blue ribbon panel appointed by Secretary Chao, the DOT IG report and the Wicker-Cantwell Bill all found problems with the Boeing’s interaction with the FAA in the B 737 Max 8 certification. Even Mr. Calhoun acknowledged those problems and  said that he was focused on transforming the internal culture.

a.   Critical articles about Boeing’s Past

Safety was ‘a given’: Inside the boardroom amid Boeing’s crisis

Boeing employees pushed back on “stupid” airlines and regulators who asked for more pilot training

Internal Boeing documents show employees discussing efforts to manipulate regulators scrutinizing the 737 Max

‘Clowns’ and ‘Monkeys’ Join Boeing’s Sad Circus

Boeing employees pushed back on “stupid” airlines and regulators who asked for more pilot training

A breakdown for Boeing and the FAA after years of trust

Boeing Staff called ‘DGCA in India a stupider fool,’ reveal company documents

MAX Chatter at Boeing Undercuts Its Public Stance

b. Articles about Boeing’s subsequent actions- remedial and otherwise[2]

John Hamilton

The Absent, Critical Point In The Boeing Chief Engineer Stories

Highly scrutinized B727 Max 8

Boeing Chief Engineer Retires

No one notices he was head of ODA for Max 8

So much to learn from him!!!

Mary Pasztor

Ms. Pasztor Is The New Boeing Person In Charge Of Its Safety Culture

Muilenburg selects Pasztor to lead Product and Services Safety organization

Board recommended new function to enhance Safety Culture

sms and SMS

Experienced and Knowledgeable, but has MAJOR CHALLENGE


c. From Boeing.com

Jul 2, 2020

Communications Leadership Announcement



Jun 18, 2020

Boeing Names D’Ambrose as Human Resources Leader



MAY 27, 2020

Boeing CEO Provides Update on Workforce Actions


Following the reduction-in-force announcement we made last month, we have concluded our voluntary layoff (VLO) program. And now we have come to the unfortunate moment of having to start involuntary layoffs (ILO). We’re notifying the first 6,770 of our U.S. team members this week that they will be affected. We will provide all the support we can to those of you impacted by the ILOs — including severance pay, COBRA health care coverage for U.S. employees and career transition services


MAY 14, 2020

Boeing Names Delaney to Lead Confident Travel Initiative

– Boeing will unite with industry to help minimize air travel health risks amid COVID-19 pandemic

APR 21, 2020

Boeing Announces Key Organization, Leadership Changes

– Greg Smith to lead new Enterprise Operations, Finance & Strategy organization

…The company also is combining its legal and core compliance programs, including global trade controls, ethics and business conduct, into a single organization led by Brett Gerry, chief legal officer and executive vice president of Global Compliance. This approach will enhance Boeing’s already strong compliance and internal governance program through focused accountability for, and a more integrated approach to, Boeing compliance responsibilities. It also will help the company proactively address new legal and compliance obligations arising from an increasingly complex global regulatory environment.

To accelerate this important work and to build on the existing strength of its compliance and ethics program, Boeing soon will name a chief compliance officer who will be responsible for leading the company’s compliance, ethics and trade control activities. This person will report to Gerry, with a direct reporting line to Calhoun and the board’s Audit Committee on compliance and ethics issues.

Boeing Nominates New Directors; Announces Director Retirements

Boeing nominates Steve Mollenkopf and Akhil Johri as new directors at the company’s upcoming annual meeting of shareholders. The board also announced independent directors Edward Liddy and Mike Zafirovski will not stand for re-election and will retire from board service at the meeting.

Steve Mollenkopf

Steve Mollenkopf is CEO of Qualcomm Incorporated and serves on the company’s board of directors. Since becoming CEO in 2014, Mollenkopf has led the company through the development of 5G and brought the benefits of mobile technologies to new industries through an increasingly diverse product portfolio. Previously, Mollenkopf served as Qualcomm’s president and COO, a role which oversaw Qualcomm’s investment in technologies that propelled smartphones into the mainstream. Prior to his role as president and COO, Mollenkopf led the company’s chipset business, overseeing the launch of 4G technology. He helped make Qualcomm the world’s largest mobile chipset supplier and a global leader in LTE technology. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan.


Akhil Johri

Akhil Johri served as executive vice president and CFO of United Technologies Corporation from January 1, 2015 to November 1, 2019. Johri returned to United Technologies in 2015 after serving as CFO for Pall Corporation, a publicly traded leader in filtration, separation and purification solutions. Prior to joining Pall Corporation, Johri spent 26 years at United Technologies in various executive positions of increasing responsibility. Prior to his role as CFO, Johri was vice president of finance and CFO for UTC Propulsion & Aerospace Systems, which included Pratt & Whitney and UTC Aerospace Systems. Before that, he led UTC’s Investor Relations and Financial Planning & Analysis groups. Johri also had senior financial roles at UTC Fire & Security and Carrier Corporation, including 12 years in the Asia Pacific region. Johri also serves as an independent director on the board of Cardinal Health, Inc.


JAN 13, 2020

Calhoun Begins Role as Boeing President and CEO



– New leadership to focus on safety culture, improved transparency and rebuilding trust


This is a crucial time for Boeing. We have work to do to uphold our values and to build on our strengths. I see greatness in this company, but I also see opportunities to be better. Much better. That includes engaging one another and our stakeholders with greater transparency, holding ourselves accountable to the highest standards of safety and quality, and incorporating outside-in perspective on what we do and how we do it.

  • Return the 737 MAX to service safely:This must be our primary focus. This includes following the lead of our regulators and working with them to ensure they’re satisfied completely with the airplane and our work, so that we can continue to meet our customer commitments. We’ll get it done, and we’ll get it done right.
  • Rebuild trust:Many of our stakeholders are rightly disappointed in us, and it’s our job to repair these vital relationships. We’ll do so through a recommitment to transparency and by meeting and exceeding their expectations. We will listen, seek feedback, and respond — appropriately, urgently and respectfully.

[1] Responsibilities The incumbent is responsible for the development and evaluation of human machine interface (HMI)-related regulations, guidance material, standards, policies, programs, procedures, training materials, and human factors criteria pertaining to civil aircraft, systems, equipment and other work activities under the minimal direction of a manager, project/program manager or other experienced engineers. This includes, but is not limited to, systems and equipment for all types of aircraft (transport, rotorcraft, small aircraft, and unmanned aircraft systems). applies experience and comprehensive knowledge of aerospace engineering principles, theories, and concepts applicable to human Factors, as well as an understanding of new technologies and methodologies, to solve complex problems and to develop improved technical processes for the organization. The incumbent serves as an advisor on human machine interface (HMI) issues related to aircraft, systems and equipment, including manned and unmanned. Assignments frequently require knowledge and experience working across functional and/or organizational lines…


[2] ‘It’s More Than I Imagined’: Boeing’s New C.E.O. Confronts Its Challenges; SMS Will Soon Be Mandatory For Boeing And It Will Have To Reenergize Its Safety Culture; Does Boeing’s Lean Manufacturing Drive Need Some SMS Balancing; President & CEO Calhoun SAFETY CULTURE AT BOEING NEEDS A TOP-TO-BOTTOM INSTALLATION; New York Times Article- Is It Time To Reconsider The Boeing ODA?; Boeing Adds An Admiral To Its Board- Pluses And Minuses; Boeing Story Buries The Headline From An Aviation Safety Perspective; What Really Brought Down The Boeing 737 Max?; What FAA Must Do About The Boeing ODA?; B777x Static Test = A Boeing Engineering Stress Test; What The Boeing Special Airplane Design And Process Committee Review Said

B-737 Max 8 structural diagram


Share this article: FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Be the first to comment on "Update on FAA’s and Boeing’s Remedial Actions on Aircraft Certification"

Leave a comment