Federal Aviation Administrator (FAA) Steve Dickson testified on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, for three hours before the Senate Committee as crash victims’ family members sat in the audience listening. Dickson’s testimony comes one week after he testified before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the certification process of new aircraft. His testimony comes three years following the crash of Lion Air 610 that killed all 189 on board and the second crash just five months later of another Boeing 737 MAX8 that crashed after takeoff in Ethiopia killing all 157 on board.
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, convened a full committee hearing titled “Implementation of Aviation Safety Reform” that examined the urgency of implementing aviation safety, certification and oversight reforms mandated by the Aircraft, Certification, Safety and Accountability Act (ACSAA) of 2020. Senators discussed the approach of the FAA to effectuating ACSAA and its work to implement provisions of the legislation in accordance with congressionally mandated timelines.
For three hours, Dickson discussed topics such as the FAA’s delegation and certification processes, safety culture and systems oversight practices since the passage of ACSAA as well as the impact of COVID on current aviation schedules.
Several family members were able to attend the Senate hearing on November 3rd, 2021, either in person or via the internet.
Michael Stumo of Massachusetts, who lost his daughter Samya Rose Stumo, 24, in the crash, applauded Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) for asking when the FAA will stop trusting Boeing with regulating themselves. Dickson said the FAA is now retaining some regulatory functions, but Stumo pointed out that means the manufacturer continues to regulate itself on many levels. Stumo added, “The manufacturer will not change until its self-regulation authority is pulled. Boeing must then re-prove it is competent and trustworthy.”
Nadia Milleron of Massachusetts, who lost her daughter Samya Rose Stumo, age 24, in the crash, approached Dickson after the hearing and said, “Don’t let Boeing sell planes unless required pilot training is in place for that particular plane.” His response was that he would look into it. One of the major issues regarding the crashes of the Boeing 737 MAX was that initially, Boeing executives blamed the pilots; however, the planes were allowed to be certified with a new software system on which pilots were not initially trained nor was the new software system included in the plane’s manual. Stumo and Milleron personally attended the November 3rd hearing.
Ike Riffel who lost both of his sons in the Boeing crash in Ethiopia said, “Boeing did not only defraud the FAA, they defrauded the flying public and the entire world and their actions resulted in the deaths of 346 people. Our FAA will never be the ‘gold standard” of aviation safety as long as fraud and deceit are allowed to go unpunished.”
Chris Moore of Toronto, Canada, father of 24-year-old Danielle Moore who was killed in the Boeing crash in Ethiopia, has been very vocal on aviation safety issues. He was upset that over half of November 3rd’s hearing was related to non-Boeing 737Max issues and said, “The Senate should have called this hearing, ‘Hey Dickson, What Up?’ Senators need to take this aspect of safety seriously – they can have a separate discussion about other matters at another hearing.”
Families and friends who lost loved ones in the crash of a Boeing 737 MAX jet in 2019 continue to ask Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to terminate the aircraft maker’s ability to certify its own airplanes, a provision allowed in a program called the Organization Designation Authority (ODA) that allows third parties to perform functions of the FAA.
Hundreds of family and friends who lost loved ones on Boeing 737 MAX aircraft petitioned DOT officials, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Dickson to withdraw Boeing’s ability to certify its aircraft because “it has become clear that Boeing is not a company that can be trusted with the public safety responsibilities conferred by the ODA,” according to their petition to the DOT dated Oct. 19, 2021. Click here to see the petition.
The petition cites 15 reasons why Boeing misconduct requires the FAA to terminate Boeing’s ODA including the company’s “deceiving the FAA” about the methods the MAX aircraft operated “by way of misleading statements, half-truths and omissions,” creating “an ODA culture that applies undue pressure to engineering personnel so they are not able to exercise independent judgment free from organizational conflicts of interest,” and “failing to insulate the ODA from Boeing’s profit motives.”
On another front, Mark Forkner, former chief pilot of the new Boeing aircraft, is set to stand trial in Forth Worth, Texas federal district court on a six-count indictment for his actions involving the 737 MAX, including lying during the certification process of the new aircraft. He pled not guilty in federal court in Texas on Oct. 15, 2021. His trial is set for Dec. 15 in Forth Worth federal court.
Tomra Vecere of Massachusetts, who lost her brother Matt in the crash, said, “Mr. Forkner did not act alone in the engineering snafu that killed 346 people and should not be the only indictment in this mass casualty. The offering of a mid-level employee is an insult to anyone who lost a family member on Boeing’s planes. The unfolding of the investigations, litigation, congressional hearings, and panels produces nothing: no transparency, no accountability, no admission of guilt or systemic culture change at Boeing or the FAA. Mr. Forkner is a sorry scapegoat as there is no atonement in Boeing’s offering: no executives, no board members, no justice.”
For further information, contact Clifford Law Offices Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-721-0909 (cell).