FAA adds Technical Advisory Boards to Certification Processes

approved a/w cert
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Hill response to Max 8 included mandates

Establishment of Technical Advisory Boards -fix for Boeing mess

FAA policy allows for TABs designed to specific TC application risks


The FAA announced an addition to its certification process – the establishment of Technical Advisory Boards to assist in the review of certification applications. The PR release states, in part:

This week, the agency expanded the use of independent groups of internal and external safety experts for certification projects such as commercial aircraft, smaller aircraft and drones. These reviews, called Technical Advisory Boards (TAB), help the FAA have a consistent and thorough approach for all aircraft certification projects.

The changes go beyond a key requirement of the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act. They will also:

·       Promote establishing the TAB early in the certification process

·       Specify different levels of TABs depending on the project scope and the risks the aircraft could pose when it enters into service.

During a TAB review, technical specialists, who are independent of a certification project they are reviewing, become familiar with the proposed design or design change, and how it will meet the FAA’s certification regulations. 

·       TAB members focus on a big-picture view of the project. Depending on the level of review, their responsibilities could include:

·       Identifying new technologies, designs or design features that could be catastrophic if they failed

·       Determining whether FAA project specialists reviewed all major issues

·       Determining whether similar systems have caused problems on other aircraft

·       Determining whether the proper FAA offices were involved in the certification process

·       Conducting secondary design reviews and procedure and training evaluations


All of these steps are direct remedial actions to the Boeing mess!!!Old Boeing Board

The record makes it quite clear that the oversight, exercised by  Boeing’s Board and senior management, was less than overwhelming. The FAA statutorily is authorized to rely on the Part 25 applicant’s adherence to the regulatory criteria, but in recognition of the agency’s limited resources, Several years ago Congress enacted the Organization Delegation Authorization as a function to increase the expertise needed to assess the airworthiness of proposed aircraft. Several fact-finders found that the ODA oversight function did not accomplish its goals [click HERE for longer report].

MCAS diagram


An additional layer of review, extra eyes looking for safety risks and more resources all will increase the reliability of the aircraft certification. The specific language of the above quote points out an important aspect of TAB- the composition, size, scope and specific areas of focus will vary based on an initial assessment of the TC application. The organizational philosophy closely resembles the principles of performance certification standards and the use of ASTM to improve engineering





TAB team


FAA will expand use of independent panels to help review aircraft safety


The agency previously used outside experts to help ensure that the 737 Max could fly safely after two deadly crashes

Ian DuncanBy Ian Duncan

Yesterday at 1:00 p.m. EST


The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday [FULL STATEMENT] that it will make more widespread use of expert independent safety panels to help it review new aircraft designs, a change that grew out of the agency’s response to the 737 Max crashes.

The teams will serve as an additional check on the FAA’s regular certification process, which has been faulted for missing flaws in the design of the Max.

The FAA used such a panel, known as a Technical Advisory Board, to review changes to the Max as it worked to re-approve the plane as safe, drawing on staffers from elsewhere in the Transportation Department, the Air Force and NASA[1]. It is also using one to help with the review of Boeing’s new long-range 777X jet.

The agency said the approach goes beyond changes to aircraft safety oversight that Congress required after the crashes, which claimed 346 lives.

The board’s responsibilities will vary but could involve analyzing the risks posed by new technologies and determining whether the right FAA experts had been involved in the approval process. InvestigationsEngineer review after the Max crashes found that the FAA had an incomplete view of a new system that ultimately malfunctioned, forcing the planes into dives.


The FAA has been taking steps to stiffen its oversight of aircraft manufacturers in recent months and has come to rely more heavily on its own staff to conduct reviews, rather than drawing from experts at the companies. This month it also released a proposal to ensure that experts inside the companies are free to raise safety concerns with the FAA.


The job of overhauling the agency’s approach to safety fell to Administrator Steve Dickson, who took the job just months after the second Max crash. He has announced his resignation, effective at the end of March.

Dickson in Max 8 cockpit



[1] That list is drawn from the MAX 8 project. The FAA release on this aspect cites “independent groups of internal and external safety experts.

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