The Ethiopian government, who owns the airline involved in the recent tragic crash, falsely asserts
that its pilots followed all established procedures. But the data shows that the pilots continued to accelerate at full throttle
The plane’s warning system was telling them to slow down. But they raced well past the maximum certified speed for the aircraft and never heeded the warnings. This fateful error made the plane much harder to control and adjustments almost impossible, and gave the pilots less time to operate. The young and inexperienced pilots, aged 29 and 25, apparently had not trained on a Max 8 simulator and had only 103 and 56 flight hours in the 737 Max 8.
There are international interests — both governments and businesses — that will profit handsomely if they successfully blame the plane and discredit the Federal Aviation Administration. For these interests, the facts may not matter. They may simply see this as a cynical blame game that benefits their business interests.
Here are some facts — the 737 Max 8 has more than 57,000 flights in North America with no serious incidents. None.
If the plane were the problem, we’d see it even with experienced pilots. But we haven’t seen that. And the European Union and China appear to be using this tragedy to advance their industrial policy goals.
The long-standing collaborative engagement between the FAA, manufacturers, airline customers, security and air traffic professionals, pilots, airports, and industry partners has created the safest transportation system in the world. The FAA is the gold standard globally, boosting passenger confidence with their data-driven and safety-minded mission of achieving excellence in air travel. It’s important for the United States and the global aviation community that the FAA continue to lead the world in aircraft certification and safety regulation.
The FAA has a hard-earned track record that is unimpeachable: commercial aviation fatalities in the U.S. have decreased by 95 percent over the past 20 years as measured by fatalities per 100 million passengers.
Since 2009, "U.S. airlines have transported about 8 billion passengers without a single fatal crash," per CNBC.
When Members of Congress and the media impugn the FAA or seek to weaken the agency, they simultaneously build up foreign regulators like those in Europe and China.
Allowing foreign regulators to gain even a perceived advantage over the FAA will likely reduce safety and have serious implications for American manufacturing, the U.S. economy and workforce, as well as American competitiveness in the global airplane marketplace.
The moment we allow the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) or the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to use safety validations as leverage over U.S.-manufactured products like Boeing airplanes, they will use that advantage to benefit Airbus as well as the forthcoming COMAC airplanes to be developed and manufactured in China years down the road.
Aircraft certification and safety cannot devolve into an international bargaining chip where officials at EASA can slow-walk approvals or initiate superfluous reviews to hold up Boeing while Airbus checks in behind the scenes to try and flip customer orders.
Recently, Airbus CEO Tom Enders expressed “concern” in a March 29 Aviation Week article that “the reputational damage for the FAA will not be easy to fix.” He quickly suggested in the same piece that future certification campaigns will become more complicated as regulators outside the U.S. "seek more independent scrutiny.”
As the annual Paris Air Show approaches in two months’ time, it’s clear that Airbus is already seeking to use the recent 737 MAX tragedies, still under investigation, to sell airplanes and erode the FAA’s prominence globally while building up the Airbus-funded regulator, EASA. China is playing the same cynical game.
Not many people know that EASA is funded by a combination of contributions from the European Union and its participating member states, as well as fees paid by applicants for, and holders of, certificates and approvals issued by EASA. The result is that roughly two-thirds of EASA’s budget is funded by fees paid by industry for EASA services.
It’s important that tough questions be asked and crash investigations be conducted without bias or influence. Historically, the FAA has been its own best critic.
After every rare accident and misstep, the aviation community — led by the FAA — takes stock of what went wrong and makes changes as necessary to avoid repeat events. That will no doubt be the case following this 737 MAX accident, and that introspective and corrective process should be allowed to proceed without non-experts grandstanding about changes to be made.
We need to find ways to strengthen the FAA and the safety of the aviation industry without tearing down the standing of either. Allowing second-rate foreign regulators additional leverage to dictate the future of aviation won’t make anybody safer!
George Landrith is the President and CEO of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government. To learn more about Frontiers of Freedom, visit www.ff.org. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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