US Senate Committee Investigation Report – Aviation Safety Oversight
IFA Comment: There’s always more to learn about safety culture. The report provides some key lessons to learn.
In April of 2019, weeks after the second of two tragic crashes of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation staff began receiving information from whistleblowers detailing numerous concerns related to aviation safety. Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker directed staff to begin an oversight investigation. The scope and breadth of the investigation quickly expanded beyond the first allegations inspired by the 737 MAX tragedies. Information received from fifty-seven whistleblowers revealed common themes among the allegations including insufficient training, improper certification, FAA management acting favorably toward operators, and management undermining of frontline inspectors. The investigation revealed that these trends were often accompanied by retaliation against those who report safety violations and a lack of effective oversight, resulting in a failed FAA safety management culture.
This report details a number of significant lapses in aviation safety oversight and failed leadership in the FAA. The committee is in receipt of many more examples and continues to receive new information from new whistleblowers regularly.