Sec. Chao’s Special Committee on Certification points to SMS among other measures

Share this article: FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

After Max 8 crashes, DoT Secretary Chao named a Committee

Composed of Aviation Safety Experts

Report with 10 Recommendations

#1 was SMS mandate for OEMs, BOEING NEEDS NOW

Max 8 schematic


Panel Calls FAA Aircraft Certification Process ‘Effective,’ Urges Enhanced Safety Measures – Flight Safety Foundation

Aircraft Certification Committee Releases Findings & Recommendations to Enhance Aviation Safety

Transportation secretary’s expert panel defends FAA system that approved deadly 737 Max jets

FAA should mandate safety management systems for Boeing, others: panel

Group finds aircraft approval process safe, despite crashes

Panel finds FAA followed procedures in approving Boeing Max

FAA’s assumptions in Boeing 737 Max approval faulted by experts – BNN Bloomberg

UPDATE 1-FAA should mandate safety management systems for Boeing, others -panel

737 MAX Special Committee Report Seeks FAA Workforce, Design Review Improvements – Avionics


Sec. ChaoApril of 2019, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine L. Chao, created the Special Committee to Review the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Certification Process (the Committee). On January 16, 2020, the panel issued a 68 page official report which was the result of considerable research, dialogue with experts from academia, NASA,  the industry, the Boeing team involved in the certification, the Boeing ODA team, the FAA staff overseeing the Max 8 certification and the relevant FAA executives.

The panel itself was composed of five experienced individuals, each knowledgeable about aviation safety but none with any direct allegiance to aerospace manufacturing. The five-member panel is headed by



Co-Chairs Capt. Lee Moak, a former president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International,


Darren McDew, a retired U.S. Air Force general who managed worldwide air, land and sea transportation for the Defense Department.

The panel’s three other members are

HeliOffshore CEO Gretchen Haskins, a member of the Flight Safety Foundation Board of Governors;

Kenneth Hylander, a former airline and rail safety executive and a former chairman of the Foundation Board of Governors;


David Grizzle, a former COO of the FAA Air Traffic Organization. And Chief Counsel and before that Continental SVP.

[pictures on cover page]

They were able to ask insightful questions and to place the answers into a broader aviation safety context. Their report is strong evidence that their questions cut to the chase and assessed the underlying flaws which are needed to be rectified. Basically, the Committee found that the practices and procedures in place were, and continue to be, well designed to identify safety risks in the certification. Reading the report’s nuances, the Members were not as pleased by the performance of individuals involved in the Max 8 review.

While considerable comments on the Report were made in a number of publications[1], in general the recommendations were well received by the press.

House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman, Rep. Peter DeFazio commented that “his committee’s investigation has revealed multiple points at which the certification process failed and that he Chairman DeFaziointends to propose legislative fixes.” “I want to be very clear: 346 people died because the system failed,” DeFazio said. “Despite the wishes of industry, it would be the height of irresponsibility to leave the ODA system as is and just hope for the best the next time. Not addressing the failures head-on would be a grave mistake and that will not happen on my watch. “DeFazio has previously said reforms need to include a larger number of inspectors, mostly paid for by the aerospace industry, and a transparent process for allowing employees to raise safety concerns within an organization.

The recent disclosures of Boeing employees internal email disparaging the FAA, other CAAs and their own management are strong evidence that, contrary to Boeing’s public statements, there was a void of SAFETY CULTURE among the employees AT ALL LEVELS OF THE COMPANY most involved in the assessment of risk in the certification process:

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

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

sms chartIn that the current internal environment does not appear to reflect the level of attention to safety standards, procedures, practices, policies and basic personal posture, the Committee’s 1st finding merits greater attention here:

Summary of Key Findings and Recommendations:

    1. Safety Management Systems Finding

Safety Management Systems (SMS) help to ensure a holistic, proactive assessment of whether the combination of design, procedures, and training will support effective safety performance.  There is no requirement for SMS for design and manufacturing organizations.


    • The FAA currently requires an SMS only for part 121 operators. The FAA must mandate implementation of SMS for design and manufacturing organizations, thereby ensuring connection and interrelationship with the existing SMSs of airlines, airports, and service providers.
    • The FAA should take the necessary steps to ensure a total system approach to safety, linking all safety requirements from type certification to pilot training, and operational performance of the product.
    • The FAA should encourage the integration of Partnership for Safety Plan (PSP), SMS, and ODA activities to create an effective oversight process between manufacturers and FAA to better manage safety and certification issues.

SMS table

The SMS regime engages ALL employees in the business of improving processes, productivity and efficiency the process constantly reinforces improved safety. It is about improving quality (Bill Deming’s Total Quality Management is one of the sources of SMS) and engaging employees to recommend and suggest better  processes. In turn the mental discipline/consciousness enhances corporate and safety culture. The definition of safety roles for everyone results in more satisfied and happier employees since the company listens/considers individual input as important. Finally, if the Boeing leadership establishes the Safety Culture by example, their actions will show that the company is concerned about quality, employees and customer satisfaction.TQM poster




While the Special Committee correctly called on the FAA to mandate SMS, Boeing can reinvigorate its commitment to SMS and Safety Culture NOW!!!

top down and bottom up








Attachment of articles about the Chao Special Committee Report.

Attachment Official Report of the Special Committee to review the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Certification Process




[1] See Attachment A after this text.












Share this article: FacebooktwitterlinkedinFacebooktwitterlinkedin

Be the first to comment on "Sec. Chao’s Special Committee on Certification points to SMS among other measures"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.