USTDA’s Hardy might consider using his authority to help reinforce the FAA’s Gold Standard

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FAA,true or not, has lost some luster for the Gold Standard

Multiple reasons for “erosion”

USTDA’s Hardy could help reinstate FAA as gold standard with some consulting contracts

The Boeing 737 Max8 tragic accidents and the immediate “analysis” of the certification have led to some experts[1] casting aspersions about the FAA no longer being the Gold Standard of International Aviation. Whether this disparagement is true or not on an objective level, the question of the US Gold Standard has been mentioned as frequently as when President McKinley and perennial presidential candidate Williams Jennings Bryan debated the metal for redeeming paper currency.

While most objective assessments would have to recognize that the FAA’s regulatory criteria and surveillance set what is world class, it must be admitted that its international presence has been diminished by repeated Congressional budget cuts.

The importance of strong intergovernmental relations, or rather the absence of trust between the FAA and the other CAAs, is one of the lessons of the bow wave of foreign authorities prior to March 13, 2019.

The value of interaction among regulators and the positive influence created is amply demonstrated by the clear EU/EASA campaign:



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Senate finally gets the case for FAA to PROMOTE its standards to the world

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To add to this difficult situation, Congress mandated that the FAA independently[2] audit all of the world’s civil aviation authorities. The International Aviation Safety Audit is repeated[3] at every CAA around the world and the result is that the FAA tells another sovereign meets the ICAO standards. The fact that the US asserts that it can assess the competence of another sovereign does not foster great relationships.

That said, some of the world’s CAAs could benefit from outside experts working with them, in a consultative rather than auditing relationship, to improve their safety standards, surveillance techniques and develop new competencies. Such a campaign should carry the US flag as a subtle way to diminish the tarnish on the FAA’s gold standards.

This effort would extend to all CAAs which would appreciate the help. The FAA’s Category 2 (below ICAO standards) includes only 4 countries (Bangladesh, Costa Rico, Curacao, Ghana and Thailand). There are more authorities which might appreciate upgrading their organization, particularly if the assignment is not to find faults, but to work cooperatively to enhance safety (no CAA would say that it is flawless).

Another aspect of this proposal recognizes that changes require time; so these assignments would allow for the US team to take time to rewrite rules, improve manuals, help upgrade the sill levels of the incumbents or recruit new staff.

This project would seem to be a natural for the US Trade Development Agency; its mission incorporates the goals of this overseas

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency helps companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies.  USTDA links U.S. businesses to export opportunities by funding project preparation and partnership building activities that develop sustainable infrastructure and foster economic growth in partner countries.

Technical Assistance

USTDA provides technical assistance that supports legal and regulatory reform related to commercial activities and infrastructure development, the establishment of industry standards and other market-opening activities. In addition to advancing economic development in the Agency’s partner countries, these technical assistance programs facilitate favorable business and trade environments for U.S. goods and services.

Here some similar cases—

USTDA Supports Smart Street Lighting In Costa Rica

Though not a USTDA program, a great example of sharing US technology with a foreign country

Boeing and Airports Authority of India Sign Agreement to Modernise Air Traffic Management in India

Acting Director Thomas R. Hardy might well understand the merits of promoting US aviation now? Sending these subject matter experts to countries will enhance their aviation safety regulatory abilities and in a soft sell basis, reinforce the FAA’s Gold Standard.


[1] Much to their credit House T&I Aviation Subcommittee Chair Rep. Larsen and his Republican counterpart Rep. Graves have both expressed confidence in the FAA’s global standing.

[2] ICAO, IATA and EASA also makes these redundant assessments.

[3] Though all of these audits measure against the same criteria, the results differ sometimes.


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