tv FAA Administrator Steve Dickson Testifies on Aviation Safety CSPAN December 9, 2021 6:46pm-9:23pm EST
>> this senate committee on commerce, science and transportation will come to order. we're having a hearing today on the implementation of our new aviation reform law. and want to welcome the honorable steve dickson, administrator for the federal aviation administration for joining us today. i also want to take a moment to recognize the families who have lost loved ones who are with us today. thank you so much for being here and for your continued oversight on this issue. i can't imagine the pain and
suffering of your loss and the pain you are still feeling, but i certainly want you to know we appreciate your vigilance on aviation safety reform. you have shaped the safety work of this committee and with your support and critical input, the committee played a leading role in drafting the aircraft certification safety and accountability act. this important legislation enacted into law almost a year ago, i believe, provided a big down-payment on the direction we need to go to implement safety reforms in the united states and to make us the gold standard around the world. that is why we're here today, to have this hearing, to determine whether the federal administration, the federal aviation administration has faithfully and vigorously executed the safety reform law in occurrence with congressional mandates for deadlines and action. i will be up front with you mr. administrator, for the purpose of this hearing, it is to find out whether you are upholding
the spirit and the letter of this law. while not the only thing we need to do, the law that we implemented was a clear course correction. it said that we needed to have a stronger faa oversight. the people in place to do that job, and to hold manufacturers accountable. directing the faa, and making sure that job has done is critical. while i know your communication to the committee in your written testimony talks about a lot of the actions and requirements that were in the law, we also know that there is more to be done. i want to say that i'm very appreciative of ian wan at the boeing oversight office who on may 18th issues a letter slowing down the triple 7 x so more
information needed to be provided for the oversight of that plan. i'm a firm believer that engineers on the ground know their job. what's not clear to me is whether their people are listening to them and whether the faa has their back. i also want to enter into the record an august 19th letter from mr. juan also talking about the changes to the boeing office and things that needed to be done to insure they have the oversights and objectives. he's been clear, we need more resources. he's been clear, we need the right people to do this job. so we need the faa, as i said, to be that gold standard. when a special committee review of aviation certification process, the socac came back with a whitewash of what we needed to do, i was disappointed that you did not take more
critique with that. in fact, basically, you testified before congress, basically the system is not broken. well, there were parts that were broken, and they need to be fixed. so i look forward to your testimony, but reading it, i see more of the same. now is not a time to mince words. now is a time to provide the leadership that it takes to get the staffing, the oversight and the direction that is required of an oversight agency to hold manufacturers accountable. make no mistake, the manufacturer has its own responsibilities here, and we will also hold them accountable. we believe there's more to be done on certification, more to be done on the oversight and certification process, so that we are not just creating checkmarks on a list that now we can say the list has these checkmarks. that is where we were with the m-cast system.
in the end, it was the tragedy that we all know too well and are still living with. so, i'm very challenged by your testimony. we don't believe the faa is prepared on january 1 of 2022 to restore direct supervision and control over those manufacturing engineers and delegated authority, because they, that process should have started sooner, because it is a big over sight responsibility. i will have questions for you in the q&a about that and the type of personnel we need in all of these jobs. we don't believe the faa has conducted the necessary workforce review for determining the staffing and experience of those levels and the faa has not taken steps necessary to limit the delegation of certification tax to industry until the faa has verified all human factor instructions. relaying in a two page memo is not what it takes to get it
implemented. it may be a basic start, but where is proof of the implementation? and this level of reform is needed immediately. and the faa is not fully implemented new requirements, to disclose safety critical information like related to flight control systems, so the faa can be aware and fully assess the impact of those proposed design changes and innovation technologies. again, this went into the u.s. code and was effective immediately, but the faa expects to issue guidance in 2022. we don't have time to wait. we need that kind of oversight today. and the faa has yet to complete the work of the independent expert panel which supposed to be queened 30 days from enactment to provide timely advice on whether the faa should reign in boeing's oda authority. i would also welcome in from the record the families calling for
a pulling from that authority. i understand there is a panel meeting now, but the process and procedures in place to review their actions and have it be transparent is critically important if we are going to get this right. so all of these safety issues are critical to all of us in america. it's critical to our families who fly on planes. it's critical to our economy. we need the leadership of the faa to not just before our hearing today. the complexity that got us to this situation is a lot of complexity of language. in reality, it has to be leadership of faa in implementing the law. now i turn to my colleague senator wicker for his opening statement. >> thank you senator for conveying this oversight hearing on aviation safety and the federal aviation administration's implementation
of acsaa the aircraft committee certification safety and accountability act signed into law at the end of last year. as we all know, a little more than three years ago, boeing 737 max crashed in indonesia. approximately five months later, a second max aircraft crashed in ethiopia. and i, too, want to recognize the families of the victims. and tell them how much we appreciate their input over time. there -- it's really hard to put into words our emotions in this regard. however, the committee did
produce bipartisan legislation to improve aviation safety based on recommendations from several experts. and several expert groups, that carefully examined these accidents and the development of the 737 max. we then worked on merging our bill with one of the colleagues in the house, the result was the bipartisan bill representing the most significant aviation safety legislation in recent history. i particularly want to applaud the work of the families of the victims in pressing to reform how the federal government oversees aviation safety, particularly the process of certifying aircraft design and production. we will continue, senator cantwell and i, and the members of this committee, to press the faa to implement the reforms in
this law. in acting legislation was an important first step. now, the faa and the industry must follow through with implementing new programs and requirements. and so, i'm pleased to welcome, administrator dickson here with us today. his agency has already taken a number of actions in response to the accidents as well as the new law, but there's still much more work ahead, as the chair has just mentioned. administrator dickson should update us on the progress the faa has made so far and he should outline how he will insure the faa follows through on the remaining work. i would also ask the administrator to let us know if congress needs to do more to insure the u.s. system remains the gold standard for aviation safety. safety is a constant mission requiring the focus of the entire aviation community. we're fortunate that our nation
continues to have a truly remarkable aviation safety record. that high level of safety is the result of decades of lessons learned, as well as a dedication and hard work of safety professionals throughout the system. we cannot ever be complacent. we should always be working to improve aviation safety, so thank you madam chair, and thank the administrator for being with us today. >> thank you, senator wicker. i failed to mention in my opening statement what great bipartisan work that legislation was, and certainly appreciate the hard work of your staff and my staff, and obviously, our work with our house colleagues own getting that over the goal line. so, so many members who are with us here this morning also had legislation that was included in that so it was really a comprehensive list of issues that that committee really, in, i can say, from what i know about the senate, engaged in, in
a very deep way. and i think that will lead to a very deep oversight of its implementation. administrator dickson, we welcome you to make your opening statement. >> thank you chair cantwell and good morning chair cantwell, ranking member wicker and members of this committee. airct certification process. we are constantly evolving as a regulator and the service provider. the entire workforce of 44,000 federal employees singularly focused on achieving that mission. as the head of the faa it is my northstar. one of the first things was to make it clear that we are the regulator and that included
resetting the relationship of boeing. i've made it clear internally that we always do the right thing when it comes to safety and i have the workforce back. we are also asking ourselves the hard questions, and we are asking them of those that we regulate. when it comes to safety, we do not accept the status quo. this is why we embrace reform and we are focused across the agency on continuous improvement. i will discuss a number of initiatives that we have underway end of the work we've completed to address this goal and implement the aircraft certification accountability act. but first, let me say to the families of the victims of the airlines and the airline crashes the faa is committed to applying the lessons learned from these
tragedies so that the aviation system here and around the world continues to improve. i want this committee to know the faa appreciates and respects the input and direction from congress and that we remain fully committed to executing the legislation to make near-term and long-term safety improvements that benefit the global aviation system. the act has more than 100 specific requirements that we are implementing to make the certification and safety oversight more holistic, systematic, transparent and effective. i can say with confidence that we are doing more for certification oversight and we are doing it more systematically than we were this time last year. for one we are delegating fewer responsibilities to manufacturers and demanding more transparency from them. at the same time, we are making
use of the technical expertise as we prioritize the safety oversight functions. the faa is also revising the guidance and criteria that we use for determining significant modifications to an aircraft so the proposed changes are evaluated from a whole aircraft system perspective and not just a single part. we are promoting the use of safety management systems internally and externally and with the organization act, the researchers for and identifies safety issues and that addresses the root cause. from my own experience, i know that it works but only if there is buy-in from everyone at all levels of the organization. from the room on the shop floor. at the faa that means when anyone at any level lags an issue, i've got their back.
no questions asked. because it works, we haven't let the rulemaking process enter from using it now. currently the design organizations including boeing have voluntarily adopted with six others and as we know human factors continue to be an important part of our work in evaluating aircraft and aircraft systems. we've expanded the manufacturer's assumptions about human factors and equipment manufacturers make when they perform system safety assessments including pilot response times. the faa has initiated rulemaking to update regulations and the guidance for conducting system safety assessments on the aircraft. and we've increased the research on automation including potential overreliance on automated systems and loss of basic piloting skills.
to support this increase, we've hired 14 human factors specialists and aircraft factor specialists and aircraft certification flight standards organizations. we are actively expanding the portfolio analytics tools so that we can more effectively share the safety data within the faa and among the stakeholders and international partners. the data is key to the identification of potential hazards and safety problems. per the act we have a new contract with the transportation research board that will help us discover emerging safety trends in aviation. since aviation is a global system, the faa is working closely with the civil aviation organization and other international stakeholders to influence and adjust the maintenance into the pilot training requirements for u.s. products operating under other civil aviation authorities. chair cantwell, ranking member and members of the committee, as
you can see the faa is committed to a thorough and complete implementation of the aircraft certification safety accountability act. we approach all this work with humility and never take safety for granted. however, we are not just doing this work because you've directed us to do it. we are doing it because it is the right thing to do for aviation safety. it is our mission. that's what the public expects and the standard that we've set for ourselves and the agency will accept nothing less. thank you again for your support and direction and i look forward to answering your questions. >> on the bill it self i want to get to some basic yes and no if i could. the legislation in our mind in crafting it was a clear stop of what we thought was a continuation to more delegation and a return closer to the
elements of what der was. do you agree, yes or no? >> we have limited the amount of delegation that we are doing particularly in the case of boeing but we are looking across the entire system as well. >> so, would you answer these questions have they completed a workforce review recommended by the department of transportation in 2015 as it relates to your workforce needs? >> we are in the process of completing that review in the context of the certification legislation. we've increased our human factor experts almost double. we've done a review of the chief scientist and technical advisors and are using them as well but
that review is ongoing. we need to continue to make sure that that is a dynamic process. >> we had a deadline for september 203rd, 2021 and certainly could have written to congress and said we can't meet that deadline. but having a workforce that you know is the technical oversight is necessary to do the review we think is step number one in the changing dynamic aviation market this is problematic and i think in the one letter he's basically talking about the fact that 1500 people on such a scale of aviation manufacturing is not enough would you agree.
we will continue to evaluate all of that going forward. here's what we think we need to do so today, just like all of the other support. we want to get on the same page. we are about to go into our appropriation process and eve are, we aren working on this. we want to get on the same page about needs. we are about to go into our appropriation process. and even though we have authorized various things in the past, we have appropriators who end up cutting these very necessary functions for the faa to do a good oversight role. but if we just say, for a deadline, of september 23rd of this year, we are continuing to work on it in the future, it hasn't given us the ability to
hold you accountable. and that's what we are going to do. we have to do that because we need this system to work affectedly for everybody. for safety and for economics. so, i want to get to -- because my time is going to dwindle down here -- the critical safety functions. and this was something that our house colleagues looked on as well and put in civil penalties for violation disclosure of this information. and -- i guess what i'm saying is, your process right, now is following a tab process. you know? the same process of oversight and collection by individuals that led us to the mcas system. that didn't catch mcas. and what we've written into laws that we want an integration system, if you will, some people call it gray beards
-- and we want those people at the beginning of the process. we want them reviewing the critical information and determining whether more oversight needs to be done. so do you think that your tab process is a fulfillment of the law? >> we are adapting the tab process to comport with the legislation. so it is a good starting point. but this integrated project team that you are referring to is definitely a part of what we are doing going forward. and how we are organizing ourselves, both the future certification projects and for projects ongoing. >> but we have certification going on right -- now >> yes -- >> so why wouldn't you have made it a good priority, setting up a critical information certification team now for the ongoing certification project? the reason i'm bringing this up is, again, we've seen two instances here, where you are going to issue a report from whistleblowers before the end of the year. and what we are hearing from whistleblowers is the same that
we have heard from the inspector general and others, and that is that line engineers have early warnings, whether it's the sum 787 battery issue or this issue related to synthetic air speeds or the complexity of automation and overloads of pilots in the system. but there was line engineers were not listened to. and that's why we want this critical information system, an integrated set, up immediately. >> yes, ma'am. the voluntary safety reporting program that we've had in place is one mechanism. but the integrated program reviews are ongoing now. and that would be a big part of both existing projects and the new certification. >> i will come back to this but i want to go to my colleagues, i just -- i'm not going to allow the law to be skirted here. this issue is about whether you are going to follow a process that allows us to see the work
of the f. a a, see that it's completed and not just here that it is ongoing. thank you. senator wicker? >> thank you, senator cantwell. mister administrator, let me start off with safety management systems you mentioned. you mentioned voluntary adoption of these. who is -- can you give us the manufacturers who are engaged in making progress in volunteering sms? >> we have currently among the transport category air framers and engines we have -- we have boeing, pratt whitney and general electric. and we have gulfstream, i believe, in there as well. then there are a number of others. >> a number of others? >> a number of other manufacturers. six in the pipeline that we have not fully accepted. >> okay. well, then supply us with those
names on the record. >> they are supposed to be a notice of proposed rulemaking with regard to the mandatory smss. when will that notice be issued? >> senator, we are making good progress on the sms rulemaking and i anticipate that it will be the -- the nprm will be next fall, less than a year from now, we will have it out for public comment. and proceed on from there. >> why that long? >> there is a lot of work that has to be done to justify the rule and we are learning from the implementation of the voluntary programs that are out there now. to make sure that we get it setup correctly and that we are able to adjudicate all the
public comments that we know will come in. we are using that time to make sure that we've got a strong and sustainable sms for manufacturers and other segments of the aviation community as well. >> let me ask one question that i'm just have to -- it doesn't deal with implementation of statute. its implementation of safety. and that's the individuals we may lose from the workforce because they simply did not intend to comply with executive orders. to receive the covid-19 vaccine. it seems to me that there are going to be a large number of
individuals who just use their -- can you address what impacts can you address what impacts this may have on your safety work >> senator wicker, my focus is on safety and running the most safe and efficient aerospace system in the world. and we have dealt with challenges throughout the covid-19 pandemic and we will make sure that we continue to operate safely. >> if you are going to need numbers and you expect a significant drop in the workforce when americans have
just that they've have to be told that we are into the wrong bodies -- we're focused on complying with the executive order by november 22nd within the agency. i do not expect to lose a significant portion of our workforce. we will make sure that we are able to satisfy our safety measures. very >> based on what information do you estimate that you will not lose a significant portion of the workforce? >> again, the requirement is there and we are working with our employees as we had throughout the pandemic to make sure they are supported and have all the information that they need to make to make the best possible decision. we have a very well established process within the agency for handling -- >> let's be mindful of that. with regard to the
international engagement, how are the bilateral agreements working and is there anything we need to do at the congressional level? >> the bilateral agreements are working well but they do require constant engagement with respect to europe in particular. my counterpart over at the director general of transport, over in europe, and i held a bilateral summit on aviation safety in june, to reinforce the importance and alignment between the u.s. and the eu on the u.s. aviation issues. as a matter of fact i saw them again last week in bogotá and we have continued that dialogue and we will make sure that there is a consistency and alignment across all the aspects of the bilateral agreement. >> thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, mister chairman. this is exactly your answer on an sms. this is what i'm talking about
in skirting the law. it's been long known that we need to implement a mandatory smes system so the voluntary system is not enough. the d.o.t. a.g. found recently on october 21st 2021, the faa oversight over estimates was not effective. i think my colleagues questions here or not about whether you can do a voluntary system. again, when there is an oversight of a true estimate system required by administrative procedures act, overseen by the faa, you will be seen as how you hold them accountable and we will be able to review that. anything less is not meeting the letter of the law. >> senator pierre. >> thank you, madam chair for this hearing. thank you for being here. and for your testimony. i will start with leading off where senator wicker was. it deals with traffic control
towers. we've had a hard time in montana, in those fully staffed under the best of circumstances. so the question becomes do you anticipate losing any air traffic controllers once the mandate takes effect? and what are you doing to make sure that we have enough traffic control and our towers? >> thank you for your question, senator tester and as i said a moment ago, we have dealt with people issues throughout the pandemic, safety and health of my workforce is at the top of the list in terms of being able to serve the public within or traffic control operations. i do not anticipate -- there's certainly potential for progressive discipline process is if we get to that point. but at this point i do not anticipate, i'm not hearing about any particular issues with respect to air traffic
control or staffing but it's something we're focused on on a daily basis. >> so do you have -- a percentage of air traffic controllers are vaccinated right now? >> the data is incomplete and the requirement for the controllers to a test is very [inaudible] , the reporting is uneven around the system. so i don't have an accurate metric to share at this point. >> so, that is a problem. it's a problem and it's a bigger problem if you don't know it and that you don't know with the exposure is here. if you don't know how many people are not vaccinated. does that make sense to you? >> that is correct. yes. >> what are you doing? anything special that has been effective in encouraging folks to get vaccinated? >> we are conducting, working very closely with our labor partners to encourage -- we are encouraging broadly the secretary and i, are sending
regular updates and encouraging the workforce to do the right thing and get their vaccines. we will continue to do that on down to the individual basis. >> it's a concern, i think, the bureau train wreck if you're not -- i want to talk about a safety culture survey that is required and has not been done yet. there was one put out in august of 2020. at least a safety cultural assessment report, that august of 2020 report had some pretty alarming statistics -- faa employees indicated they believed safety concerns will not be addressed and 43%, susan august and last year, 43% believe the -- they delegate to any
certification activities to the industry, 34%, the employee said that fear of retribution is one of the reasons employees don't report safety issues. so a year later now and we don't have that annual safety culture survey. when can we expect it? >> senator, the safety culture survey was done as a baseline as we set up the voluntary safety reporting program. that started in april and we want to let that run for a period of time so we will be doing a survey within the next few months and then we will do it on an annual basis going forward. but this really gave us a good baseline for where we are starting from. >> so i think it's required by law that section 1:32 at the ac essay, requires --
and we will be conducting in on an annual and we will be conducting it on an annual basis. that's basis. correct. >> but shouldn't it have been done by now? >> there is going to be -- it will be more beneficial to do it with the voluntary safety reporting program that we put in place, which is extremely important in terms of providing this openness that i want and will give us a better baseline -- >> so, not unlike the previous question, this leads me to -- i mean, if you are not surveying as mandated that how can the faa a inform us and the public that the culture is improving? >> we are serving, senator, we are going to conduct that survey. and we will be doing it on an annual basis. >> all right. >> senator fischer? >> thank you, madam chair.
administrator, it's been a little over ten months since the aviation certification standards and accountability act was signed into law and i support that legislation and it also included key reforms to the aircraft certification process. when does the faa hope to achieve full implementation of those reforms? >> well, we are working on those very aggressively now. we have achieved currently 15 out of 19 of the line items. but there are others. this work will go on for some period of time. and that rulemaking in the surveys we just talked about. so there will be a continuous improvement process as we go forward. >> so you really don't see an end date? because you plan on those other four areas to have a continuous process? >> well, one of the four areas
was the expert panel for review of transport category oda and that requires some work with our labor partners. that took a couple months. and we had to determine the output of solicitation for industry participants to comport with the requirements in the law. and that's that kind of work that is ongoing. it takes a while to do that right but we are fully committed to doing it. and we will see the results of that work here very soon. >> thank you. the act also directs the faa to develop a better understanding of the human factors when certifying aircraft and the bill specifically requires the faa to account for pilots of all skill levels, both international and domestic pilots. what countries are you working with to better understand the
pilots skills that we see across the globe? >> well, we are working with multiple countries. we start with the states of design for transport category aircraft, particularly europe, brazil and canada and the u.s.. but we go beyond that. we work through -- >> which? is >> the international savile aviation organization. >> and set up pilot licensing panels. we also work bilaterally with our aviation safety counterparts around the world. as i said, a few minutes ago, i was in bogotá, columbia, working with the latin american regulars. i have bilaterals with several latin american regulators, had those last week. we are talking about the work we are doing on things like manual flying skills, pat
management, training, and also we will, in the certification process, we will require going forward, as we did with the 737 max, the use of international pilots of various experience levels and training backgrounds to help with the validation of the operational testing on the aircraft as well. >> and has cooperation been good when you are working with these other countries? i guess what have you learned from them? >> i think the important thing is that we are leading the efforts on flight path management and use of automation, proper use of automation, annual flying skills. i think around the world some of these issues have not gotten the attention that they need. >> what issues? >> the issues around manual flying skills and also
information management. when you think about use of ipads on the flight deck or electronics charting, letting individuals process information on the flight deck. all of that has changed in recent years. and so it's very important that pilots are able to maintain situational awareness of their energy state and on the flight path of the aircraft and that is what we are working on to make sure that we promulgated those issues. >> during your last appearance before the committee i asked if you had concerns about the pilot reliance on automation. and you said that automation is the benefit but the individual still has to be engaged with the machine. so when you are working with the international partners to establish those training standards, are you comfortable with where we are headed, especially with regards to the
automated system? are the pilots feel uncomfortable? >> flight path management is at the core of the concern that i have. as a matter of fact, we have a draft, we offer a public review shortly a new advisory circular that our chief scientist for human factors have been working with the aviation community on for several years. it will address guidance material and potential application to air courier training programs for flight path management, which is knowing what your clearances. putting the airplane there and monitoring it so that it stays there. annual flying skills and information management that i was talking about before. all of these are extremely important to maintain the situation surrounding the aircraft.
we will use this i can go but we will also help regulators around the world implement these implement principles into their oversight and training programs as well. that will be an effort that we will undertake here in the coming years undertake. >> thank, you senator blumenthal. >> thank you, madam chair. when the department of transportation investigated the 7:37 -- found the faa had increasingly delegated to -- the assessment of flight controls and stabilizer plans, part of what we did in response was to seek to and that delegation and improve the certification processes for of the mind that we need to do
more. 7:37 was certified in the 1960s but boeing was able to, and approval for its max aircraft under intimate into over a 50 year old type certificate. and in response, the faa waited until september 16 2021 to issue a one page policy memo limiting the delegation. it was one of the root causes lead of the issues found by the inspector general. section 106 of the law was immediately effective on december 27th, 2020, so there was a clear lag between that december passage of the law and implementation of this one-page delegation and would accounted for the delay? >> senator, we have used various mechanisms to implement
the provisions of the law as quickly and most expeditiously as we possibly can, while we go through the formal process of developing orders pm and the direction to restrict the legation without validation of the assumptions for critical system design features actually was in place early in 2021, so i will have to check on the timing that you are referring to. >> well the timing of that many months, i think, is symptomatic of broader problems in terms of prompt response to new lows big, rules and undertaking rulemaking and a number of my colleagues were highlighted -- in other areas, which brings me to the october 20th 2021 inspector general report finding that the faa's
oversight of american was not as rigorous or robust as it should have been. the report states that the faa quote, lacks effective oversight control big and quote, to make sure that america is addressing the root causes of the problems that they fix. what is the faa going to do in response? >> senator, thank you for the question. our oversight, our internal processes also identify that these issues and we do need and have, we are putting in place mechanisms, for example, for professional development of our inspectors so that they could do more effective root cause analysis, which is part of that oversight for safety management systems. so we concurred with most of those recommendations and we already have plans underway to address them and close those gaps. >> it is the timeline for filling those plants?
>> i would have to get back to you specifically, but much of that work is already underway. >> let me ask you about a similar issue lead. the original 737 as i mentioned certified in the 1960s. i continue to have concerns about the process of modifying the aircraft without a full and robust certification that takes into the account the impact of modifications on the functioning of the entire system. do you share those concerns? >> as required by the legislation and also the various reviews and investigations, we are examining changes to the criteria for what would require a new type certificate, we want to balance that with beneficial safety improvements during a
product service life. we don't want to -- we want safety improvements to come to the floor, but we need some criteria on that, and so we have commissioned miter to look at the criteria for making those decisions and we are also working with our international partners in a meeting with them in july. we chartered the international authority change product rule working group, that is meeting on a regular basis to make sure that these rules are harmonized around -- regardless of manufacturing. >> i look forward to hear about you are doing on all these issues. thank you, madam chair. >> madam blackburn. >> thank you, madam chairman. thank you so much for coming before us today. fog the faa issued a safety alert on 5g interference to aircraft,
and i want to talk with you about that, because according to bloomberg governments the agency stated that, and i'm quoting, action might be required to address potential interference with sensitive aircraft electronics. and quote. it is my understanding that there are 39 countries that are currently using the spectrum for 5g services without any interference to aviation. so, are you taking this evidence into consideration? >> thank you, senator, and i appreciate the question. first of all, my focus is on aviation safety and they need to make sure that the safety of the public is as protected, but i will tell you in no uncertain terms that 5g in this spectrum and aviation, particularly
radio -- are the primary concern. they can coexist and we are working very closely with the fcc. we have had recent engagement with the telecoms companies and we will figure this out so that 5g and aviation safety can coexist. >> okay. well, in europe, you have got two dozen countries that have been using 5g for three years, including in the same spectrum band planned to be used here in the u.s.. they have had zero adverse occurrences and zero claims of the interference. so how are you working with them to ensure that there are no issues, and that you are learning from their experience, and maybe even adopting some of
their best practices? >> again, it's a great question. the use of that spectrum in terms of power levels and specific point locations is different. in different parts of the world. it is a bit of an apples to oranges comparison, but the standard sitting bodies, the artist ca and the u.s. in iraq and europe are looking closely at these issues and i do anticipate that there will be some modifications eventually overtime. that will need to occur to some of these avionics, but in the short term, again, we are working very closely with the telecoms industry and the fcc to make sure that again, the 5g deployment could occur, but that it can be done without an adverse impact >> i would think that there are plenty of lessons that you could learn from europe since they are using the same band. is that correct? >> that is correct. europe, japan, others, and
again all of these deployments are somewhat different than what is planned in the u.s., but we are certainly learning from each one. >> very good. in your testimony you note that, and i'm quoting no, it is imperative from the faa to take steps to accelerate and expand the deployment of new technologies in order to reduce barriers and actively promote innovation, so i want you to elaborate on this. what specific steps are you taking to reduce the barriers and promote innovation within the faa? ?>> i think a good example is our a u.s. office, it works across as does our don't drone integration. as you know, we have the rulemaking around remote identification and we have
engaged the industry on the next step and that rulemaking, which is beyond visual line of sight. what we need to do is work across the various lines of business, in other words, air traffic aviation safety, airports, maybe even commercial space and that is an enterprise approach that across disciplines, that has not been as necessary with traditional manned aviation, so we are really taking a data driven enterprise approach, and our a u.s. office will help us do that in terms of breaking down those barriers between disciplines at the faa. >> excellent. thank you. i yield back. >> thank you doug. senator klobuchar. >> thank you very much, and i'm sure. thank you for holding this important hearing. thank you for being here. i also wanted to express my sympathies and appreciation to
nadia and michael who are here with us today. they lost their daughter, as we know. in the crash in ethiopia. we also lost -- in that crash. i want to acknowledge him as well. -- from st. cloud, minnesota. i am glad that we passed this bill. it was really, really important to pass this bill. for i want to thank the chairwoman for her leadership, but now we have to make sure it gets implemented. that is always -- we can pass whatever bills we want, but we want to make sure that it gets done. mr. dickson, in your testimony you highlighted a voluntary safety management system for manufacturers, and i know that you noted that several manufacturers, i think you said for our voluntarily adapting -- does the faa have plans to make and big sms mandatory for
manufacturers? >> yes. we have a rulemaking underway and we expect the and prm to have a public comment on it next year. >> okay. and when do you think will that get done? >> it will depend on the administrative process associated with rulemaking, but we are learning a lot from the programs that we have out there now. sms has been very successful in the community and applying it manufacturers is a somewhat different paradigm, so we are using that data and interaction and the oversight that smes enables to make sure we get the best possible initial proposed rule out there. >> i will ask another question. i know how important it is to have qualified people to do that. let's keep that on the record. what steps as the faa taken to establish international safety standards for foreign pilots
and how will you ensure that pilots and airlines are complying with those standards? >> it's a great question. we have spearheaded the implementation of a pilot training and licensing panel at the international civil aviation organization. we did that about two years ago. the faa's chief scientist for human factors is providing leadership as well as one of our top training subject matter experts, and that group continues to work to the state. we also take what we have done in the u.s. with upset prevention and recovery training, which is required for u.s. carriers now, and then we are promulgating that around the world. and as i said, i have several bilaterals with my latin american counterparts. last week lead. we will work with them to help them implement the kind of training improvements that we
have undertaken. >> do you have a timetable for that? >> it will be ongoing work. the next, i think the next significant step is that the assembly, which is coming up next august and there will be work on going between now and then. >> in your testimony you noted plans to update the faa policies in order to prevent fraud in the self certification process. how can we trust the updated self certification process will not lead to big causing shortcuts that endanger passengers? >> senator, i've made it very clear from day one that safety cannot be compromised. it has to be our top priority. and we have to make sure both within the agency and those that we oversee, that business pressures, production pressures, operational pressures do not overcome safety, and so that is what we are all about, making sure that we use the
information that we get from our workforce, that they do the same thing to drive beneficial transparency and safety improvements. >> do you agree this is a bill -- do you believe the cargo pilots should operate under the same rules as commercial airline pilots lead, as senator cantwell, blumenthal fan -- >> there's no question that appropriately managing fatigue among pilots is critical to safety, and we have a requirement for fatigue risk management plans that have to be submitted every 24 months. we are not seeing anything in the data with the safety systems there. as you know, that happened a number of years ago, so it's something that we would certainly be interested in working on. >> you need to be concerned on that. finally, on cybersecurity, as we see across industries, there is more more -- more concerned about what is
going on whether it's the electricity grid, whether it's aviation. do you believe the faa currently has the sufficient resources and workforce to protect that out and defend the national airspace system from the growing number of cybersecurity threats? >> i receiver geller updates and i have been out to our command center several times on the cyber capabilities and we are well positioned currently, but it is something that we need to be constantly vigilant about to make sure that we reduce our tax surface and we can continue to serve the public. i think we are well positioned now but it is an area of focus for us to make sure that we continue to bring on the workforce that we need in that area. >> okay, thank you. big >> senator sullivan. >> thank you, madam chair. administrator dickson, good to see you. i want to thank you and commend you for the work you and the faa did, commissioning the faa
alaska aviation safety initiative, and as you know, sir, this came out of the february 2020 ntsb report in the february -- which looked at a ten-year period and noted the very high accident rates in alaska, the high fatality rates in alaska relative to any other communities and any other parts of the country. so i want to ask, although it's not a budget document, the aviation safety initiative report as it relates to alaska certainly points out futures in which we need improvement. and i always like to say yes, it is expensive to help smaller communities like mine, but i have over 200 communities that are not even connected by roads. the federal government helped us build roads as opposed to shut down -- we would not need this kind of ensure structure, but as you
know we need it dramatically and it's all about safety. >> so how will you use that alaska aviation safety initiative report to prioritize funding initiatives to be put into budget with the faa? >> thank you, senator. as you and i have discussed, i understand the importance of aviation to alaska and alaska to our economy and aviation system. the answer to your question is the -- will help inform us on our resource decision and what resource needs are. we have identified funding just as one example for the equipment takeover that the state has requested fog and we look forward to working with you and the state to address the long term capital needs, even beyond what is in the
reports. >> good. i appreciate that and i want to thank you for your focus on this. it is very much needed from my constituents, but anyone who comes up to alaska. unfortunately, we have too many crashes and so, madam chair, i'm looking forward to working with this committee and the state of alaska and the faa for these important budgetary prioritization's. let me mention another one. you know, alaska laid the groundwork for the nationwide deployment of ads-b, known as nextgen. and yet, the majority of alaska is without coverage in the air space that is not big classed to require coverage, even in congested areas where there has been some concerns in terms of airspace like in the bath all region. do you think it's time for the faa or congress to revisit options and that area with regard to next shun to provide
aircraft owners with avionics equipment that is needed, particularly in places that i am mentioning don't have the coverage? >> senator, i want to tell you the safety is certainly a shared priority and again, i realize the unique aspects of aviation in alaska with a number of aircrafts and how the communities rely on aviation to survive, and i know that stakeholders, i'm aware that they've asked for a second capstone project, as you've talked about, and i think the first one was a great success dog to use as a template and i look forward to working with you and the stakeholders out there to see with that might look like. >> let me ask one final question. i've been trying to determine an exact comparison of how safety related infrastructure funding makes it to the alaska region as compared to the rest of the u.s.. and my staff has reached out in
accounting of receipt expenditures budget, proposed expenditures for air traffic organizations, facilities and equipment, and what's surprised to hear that the faa does not track atf spending by state or even by service center. our faa alaska, they do heroic work, not just for alaska but the country as its planes are flying over to asia. we have 586,000 square miles of land in almost big 2.5 million square miles of airspace. but there has been no accounting. it's been difficult to get accounting for the funding of just the western service area. do you have or can you provide hud for future, a breakdown of
where those costs in dollars are being spent? i think it's important for us in congress to be able to see comparisons with regards to different regions, at least regions, if not states? >> bob i am aware of the request and we are working on it and look forward to working with you. obviously, it is a federal system and big expenditures are not tracked normally by jurisdiction. but i think that there is a way that gives you the information. >> do you think it's useful information? i mean i think it would be useful. >> i think if anyone on the committee, yourself included think that it is useful information, we will endeavor to provide the information that is useful to you. >> thank you very much. >> senator baldwin is next and then followed by senator duckworth who is on remotely, unless one of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle appears. i think senator baldwin for taking over the chair while i'm gone. >> yes, and i want to thank you
bob for holding this hearing today. thank you, mr. dickson, for your appearance here. this committee passed necessary legislation last year in response to the boeing 737 crashes and it is critically important that we follow through with oversight as the faa continues to implement the new law. mr. dickson, about a month ago the federal aviation administration announced that airports are no longer required to use firefighting phones that contain pfas. however, that announcement is limited and its effectiveness as the faa has not authorized the use of alternative phones. big airports and the neighboring communities in my state see this as an anti gesture. i believe it misses the intent of congress's direction in faa
reauthorization. residents in these communities deserve more immediate action to protect their drinking water. so what are the faa's next steps to ensure that airports are able to transition to pfas free firefighting foam? and on what timeline can we expect that to happen? >> thank you for the question, senator baldwin. this is a very important issue we are working very diligently, and we fully respect the intent of congress in the legislation, and we are working to do this as rapidly as we possibly can. we've got a balance, the effectiveness of the firefighting foam -- phone which is important for public safety in the event of the fuel fire, along with the the removal of the pfas. to that and we built a test
facility and we were interrupted somewhat by covid, because of the inability to get on site for some period of time, but we've already conducted over 400 tests a 15 types of foam. we haven't found one yet that has adequate performance of actually seeing some of these tests myself, and it would be very concerning to use any one of these, because it's just not as effective at putting the fire out. so, in the meantime, we have taken steps that, i basically free airports from the use of pfas foam for any testing certification. we have got re-capturing equipment out there were does not need to be discharged anymore. we will continue to do that. we are the only occasion where
pfas we need to be used as for an actual aircraft fuel fire, for hot breaks or anything else, we don't discharge anything. we are also working very closely with d.o.d. because this is based on a military specification. i am optimistic that we will have new standards set by in january 2023 and we are working very closely with d.o.d. on the research we do. the effectiveness part of the research and they do the chemical composition. >> mr. dickson, in previous hearings you've discussed the bipartisan american aviator act. that legislation seeks to expand flight training programs for veterans who are seeking jobs as commercial airline pilots. senator hoeven and i secured 10
million dollars in the fiscal year of 2020 and 2021 appropriations bills for our veteran pilot training program. i'm concerned that the faa has yet to make these films available. while i was pleased to see the faa recently move forward with other aviation workforce development grants, it's beyond time that we put this available funding for veterans pilot training programs grant to use. could you provide me with an update of when we can expect to see the notice of available funding for veterans pilot training grant programs? >> thank you for the question, senator baldwin. this is something that is really important and we have -- this is a novel grant program for us. it took some time to set up the specific parameters. we are making good progress with respect to the veterans
pilot training grants. we are driving to issue the first grant solicitation within this calendar year, so i anticipate that you will see the first one within the next few weeks. >> very good. i now -- senator moran, i will now recognize you for questions. >> thank you, chairwoman. i appreciate the recognition. doug mr. dickson, welcome to the committee. welcome back. we've had a long history in regard to the 737 max and its relationship to kansas and particular. this goes back to the decertification of the max in 2020. as of now, the 737 max isn't commercial operation in 31 airlines flying at 179 countries. it is completed more than 206,000 commercial flights since then. however, china and russia remained the only civil aviation authority yet to
approve the boeing 737 max's return to service. given the global regulatory community has brought to improve the max for operation, which is the outstanding issues for china, russia and with the goal is the faa playing in resolving this? >> we are meeting with the chinese and russian civil aviation authorities on a regular basis. theywe have provided them all e technical information that they need, so i'm confident that on a technical level, we are in good shape and they will make the decisions that they need to make within their systems. >> would you suggest is that technical information is there and there may be other factors utilized by china and russia to make a determination? >> yes, sir. >> a handful of universities including one in kansas, wichita state university were selected to carry out 124 of the 127 a csa a related safety systems, human factor analysis,
specifically wichita state is conducting a review of the analysis of human error methodology's framework, taxonomies that could be used by industry during the design and evaluation. do you have a comment on the value of that kind of work? >> that's extremely valuable and again, it helps at perspective and valuable research to our efforts on human factors and some of the issues we talked about this morning. >> it is the faa oversight in that regard and what is the timeframe for the results of those universities and research work? >> i'm not sure the precise timeframe, but you know, again, this is ongoing work and very important to our existing work. >> finally, i am hearing concerns, administrator, about significant delays the faa's ability to issue regulations guidance and policy.
i know there are lots of new demands on the agency, and there's new innovation and automation, and even the demands that are included in the aircraft certification safety and accountability act, but it's really important for the faa to be able to do its work in a timely and all the appropriate and adequate manner dog. with near perfection. what is the faa doing and what can you do to reduce the backlog? >> certainly, you know, there are multiple factors here, if you are talking about rulemaking, obviously there's the requirements for public comment and the administrative procedures act process, which requires a safe safety data in a positive cost-benefit business case. we -- there has been some covid impact that has led to some backlog. we are in the process of
expanding work hours and are looking at some additional resources within our chief counsel's office to be able to bring these things forward more expeditiously to make sure that any shared points might be in the process are addressed. >> one of the things you did not mention to staffing, any comments in that regard? >> something that we are always focused on to make sure that we are adequately resourced and again, i don't know that that is the central issue, but it is something that we need to look at both with our inspectors and the rest of our workforce. >> my understanding is that the vaccine requirements have been listed about in this hearing this morning, i'm sorry i was not able to hear any of your answers but i would as that you proceed, the challenge in the near future with employees being discharged or no longer able to work because of noncompliance with that mandate. >> again, i'm not hearing
anything at this point, but it is something we are focused on on a daily basis to make sure that we can complete our mission. both the operational and safety aspects are our mission. >> i look forward to for the conversations with you. thank you. chairwoman baldwin, thank you. >> thank you. next, joining us remotely is senator duckworth. >> thank you chairwoman baldwin. for holding today's hearing. i want to thank the committee and ranking member for their leadership. on last year's aircraft certification bill that included multiple provisions that i worked on. mr. dickson, as you know the department of transportation, inspector general recently published a report that revealed potentially unsafe airline maintenance practices and raced some real serious questions over faa's oversight of major u.s. carriers. for example, 92% of cases sampled by the eye and she
found that faa inspectors accepted the airlines analysis rather than identifying the root causes themselves. to me, this is really another example of faa's to cozy relationship with industry partners which fosters that institutional mindset and i think the culture of complacency -- if we leave it unchecked could lead to deadly consequences for crews and passengers alike. mr. dickson, what's specific mitigation strategies has faa implemented to address institutional oversight concerns and include technical capabilities and regulatory knowledge of the faa workforce? uestion.>> thank you for the qu, senator duckworth. the issues that you are bringing up are not acceptable and we need to do better in terms of the career development and the ability of our inspectors to identify and address root cause analysis in particular.
we agreed with the bulk of the ig findings where we are implementing improvements to those processes to address the issues to those that are already in work and underway. we had actually identified similar findings through our regular internal review processes and we are in the process of putting those improvements in place. so some of this was not -- they were not issues that we were aware of. we already had improvement plans in place. also, we know that our oversight responsibilities in this hearing, we are talking a lot about manufacturers, but this goes into the continued operational safety of a product. how crews are being trained. how airplanes are being maintained. because it is a continuous loop, so we have embraced that and put. we are putting those improvements in place and again, when i talk about resetting the
relationship, it is not just with boeing, but it's with all of the companies that we oversee. dog >> does the re-sitting of that relationship include to your policy, so that you prohibit closing a compliance action before the carriers implement the collective corrective action, because i feel like if you close the compliance action and they haven't done the corrective action bob, then there is no real incentive for them to complete that corrective action. has this been part of the updates to your policies? >> it's a good point. we actually just stood up this summer a compliance program executive council and steering committee, and they are taking that into consideration, and it's something we will look very closely at going forward, as to how the entire spectrum of compliance works all the way up to enforcement. >> i would like to review that
with you at a later time, because i do think you need to update your policy. thank you. on 147 implementation includes the bipartisan hud part 147 act, which i was very proud to have to be involved in and partnership with the aviator -- four years we've heard from students and schools and employers that the faa's regulations are decades out of date and undermined significant -- students make a pursuit of careers and aviation. our bipartisan bills requires the faa make sure schools have the flexibility to teach core curriculum that reflects modern technical advancements and innovations across the aviation industry. i administrator nixon, nearly a year has passed since the part 147 act has been enacted. what is the status of the efforts to update aircraft maintenance technician curriculum as congress directed and with the interim plan to be issued this year?
>> senator, i share your frustration and how long this process takes big, and i appreciate your interest and your focus on this. we continue to actively work through this rulemaking and i know that we missed a deadline in the bill, but i want to emphasize to you lead and really everyone on the committee that we are fully committed to it. i think that we are going to be in a position to issue the interim final rule in the coming year, but i would love to stay in contact with you and your office as we proceed. part of what happened here is we had some issues to resolve, some professional debate within the agency on the best methodology to approach this process, and that was something that took some time to work out, but we are fully aligned now. all those issues have been
resolved and we are proceeding to the intent of the law as soon as we can. >> i hope that occurs in the first quarter of the next year, and no later than the summer of next year. we will stay in touch with you as you move forward. thank you and i yield back. >> thank you. senator cruz? >> thank you, madam chair. mr. dickson, welcome. thank you for being here today and thank you for your words to the families and victims of alliance air and ethiopia airlines accidents. it is critical even as we have these discussions about things like certification, delegated authority and which forms are needed and statute and regulation, that we do not lose sight of the victims. the 346 souls lost in the ethiopian air crashes. and a lion air. and i thank those that are here drawing attention to those victims. as you know last year we passed the aircraft certification safety and accountability act. that law included a number of my amendments and i think it
represented meaningful reforms, which will help keep the flying public safe, but i also recognize that more work may need to be done. in the next faa authorization, next congress, and i look forward to working with my colleagues and with you and the faa in those efforts. mr. dickson, in your testimony discuss how the faa is transforming its relationship with manufacturers and i'm glad to hear that. agency capture regulatory capture it's something i have been and remained deeply concerned about, and something on which i think there is strong bipartisan concern. in your judgment, how has boeing reacted to this culture change and to the implementation of the new requirements that were part of the aviation safety bill? >> senator cruz, again, culture change requires daily focus. it requires regular focus. you cannot just change a process on the chart and expect
for the kind of beneficial changes that this law provides for, and that we are undertaking in terms of our own work to stick. so it is really important within the agency that we are transparent. boeing isn't the same -- not the same as it was two years ago, but they have more work to do, and the voluntary estimates program that they have in place is giving us big quicker information about issues that they face. but we have -- we have put more engineers on the shop floor and the factories. we have put more inspectors, we have put more rigorous oversight on them and we will continue to do that. we have also restricted it is delegated in terms of anything that implicates human factors, has to be validated by the
agency before the manufacturer can proceed. any critical safety system we have retained a delegation on that, and we are also with the 737 max, we have retained the issuance of the certificates on each individual airplane as it is produced. and so it will take some time, but we are on the path that we need to be, but it requires continues vigilance and attention. >> so staying on the topic of safety and airspace, i was glad to see the faa yesterday finally issued a notice and proposed rulemaking requiring commercial balloon pilots, to hold a violent ballot second class medical certificate. 2016 hot air balloon crash at locke heart, texas, which took the lives of 15 passengers and the pilot and which remains the deadliest hot air balloon crash in the history of the united states. it was terrifically tragic.
made worse by the fact that it could've been avoided. although i'm not pleased that it took the faa almost three years to follow the law and to implement the legislation that i offered, commercial balloon pilot safety act, which had a statutory deadline of 180 days. i'm glad that the medical certificate loophole that allowed the pilot to fly that they in 2016, while he was high on a cocktail of prescription drugs, that included riddle, in volume and boxy coat on, and was as impaired as a drunk driver according to the ntsb meeting. it will finally be closed. mr. dickson, how quickly can this regulation be finalize and this loophole for commercial hot air balloon pilots be dealt with once and for all? >> senator, we will have to see it through the rulemaking process as you are aware. it is frustrating how long it takes. but we have big the draft big npr him out there and as soon
as we get the public comments back, we will adjudicate them as quickly as we can and push it up through the department and get the final rule. >> so let me ask you another topic, which is what is the impact of the federal vaccine mandates on airline pallets and air traffic controllers? >> doug at this point, no impact, i mean it's something that we are focused on and certainly complying with -- >> their sworn testimonies that vaccine mandates have had zero impacts on pilots and air traffic controllers today? >> i have not seen anything in our system that would indicate -- >> so we have seen in recent weeks thousands upon thousands of plane flights canceled. i was told by a senior leader in the aviation industry that one of the causes of it was a very significant number of air traffic controllers and jacksonville engaged in a sick out, refusing to go to work because of the vaccine mandates. your testimony, that's not
correct and it did not happen? >> we don't have any evidence of that, senator. that particular event that you are referring to was one segment. i've looked at the numbers. one sector within jacksonville center, that happened to be colocated with where there was big weather, extensive military activity, so it did create a choke point, but it was not any kind of an organized activity or sick out. it was availability on one particular shift. >> and your testimony is you believe vaccine mandates have zero impacts on pilot availability? i will tell you, i've met with the pilot unions and that is not with the pilot unions are telling me. your testimony is that the vaccine mandates have zero impact on air traffic controllers? that's also not what i'm hearing from the air traffic controllers? are they not telling the truth or what are the facts here? >> senator, i'm saying at this point in time i am not seeing any impact from that. we work very closely with our union partners and met with
them within the last week or so, and we are not seeing any indication that there has been any impact on our staff up to this point. >> passengers across the country are having their flights canceled by the hundreds and thousands. that might have a different perspective on that. bob >> thank you, senator cruz. i want to thank you for your leadership and help in forming the legislation that we passed last year as the subcommittee chairmen at the time very much appreciate your input on that. we are going to have another aviation hearing, i forget the date, but in the near future that is going to review, obviously our actions on the various covid related bills. i think it will be an appropriate time to ask about the issues you brought up today. thank you. we have senator warnock and followed by senator thune. >> thank you so very much, madam chair. this week i introduced the arrow act. to expedite the development and
adoption of sustainable aviation fuel and other emissions reducing aviation technologies. i could not be more proud that georgia companies like ran such a, delta airlines and gulfstream down to my hometown of savannah georgia. has helped these aviation emission reduction efforts take off. and as we see a rise in new technologies that increase fuel efficiency and reduce harmful carbon emissions, it's important that our safety oversight body has the resources and the technical expertise to allow for quick and safety deployment of these big new innovations. mr. dickson, do you agree that having the right in-house expertise will be crucial for f a to collaborate and partner with industry on new
sustainable products and ensure these technologies are deployed safely without unnecessary delays? >> thank you, senator warnock. good to see you. the answer to your question is yes. we recognize how critical or sustainable aviation fuel is. to we very much want to be a partner with congress as people consider ways to expedite its use and deployment at scale. within our office of energy and environment, there is a team of people who are dedicated to working on how best to make staff a more routine source of aviation fuel, so we definitely want to partner with you. to your specific question, which i think is related to section 104. we have initiated the review consistent with the bill and are making and working very closely with our labor partners to execute on that review.
it's more in-depth than we originally thought, but we are determined to make it a comprehensive review. at the same time we have completed some concrete items including already a comprehensive review of our experts program, which we call our step program. that included benchmarking against a comparable program for the industry including nasa and the european union aviation safety agency. we've engaged in some active recruiting on our chief scientists and technical advisory positions, and i can tell you from personal experience we've got a very capable chief scientist within our environmental group that look forward to leading those efforts. >> as you move forward in this review, can you say more about how you plan to address any identified shortfalls in the short term and in the long term as we prioritize and try to
expedite these innovations in a way that is safe? >> we have to critically evaluate the review and ensure that we take the necessary steps, as you said. bob and any existing shortfalls that we have as well as those gaps big to understand and oversee innovative technologies in terms of staff would be really important. we need to engage, not only with the aviation community, that the producers as well. >> i appreciate that, and know that i am going to continue to push the arrow act and i think it's important that we do everything we can to move forward on sustainable aviation technologies. this is an important part of creating a sustainable and safe future and having adequate levels of experienced personnel and technical support at the faa is critical to the success
of these efforts. so that we can have skies that are safe in every sense of the word. thank you so much and i look forward to working with you on this issue. thank you big. >> senator thune. >> thank you, madam chair. administrator dickson, thank you and welcome. doug let me just start with an issue that is important in my own state of south dakota and deals with ellsworth air force base. it is prepared to host a b 21 bomber which will train in the power river training complex. it currently flies to be one bomber and holds large exercises in the purity sea airspace which requires occasional altitude waivers and i appreciate the faa's reference to expedite that coordination with the pdf a in space. looking ahead more broadly, we have to ensure that our advanced military aircraft have the expanded airspace volumes
in the time that they need training. technology modernization will be critically important to improving management of the national airspace system, particularly as new entrants such as u.s. technology increasingly interact with general commercial aviation traffic. the implementation of nextgen which has been hampered by the pandemic will be crucial in the coming years and these investments will allow the united states to utilize insisting infrastructure to increase capacity and efficiency of -- could you speak to the status of nextgen and plantation, particularly how the agency plans to make up for the pandemic related delays? and secondly, how big was the faa incorporating concepts like airspace and it's nextgen in shift to meet the growing demands on the national airspace system while maintaining safety for current hoosiers and new insurance? >> great question about nextgen. we have about 70% of the
technology field for the next ten. the challenge that we have now is to integrate those technologies between data communications and the ads-b surveillance, which we successfully implemented across the entire system in january of 2020. and big also the performance faced navigation aspects as well. so big wit we really need and where the pandemic set us back a bit as operationalize in these capabilities and integrate them within our air traffic facilities, because we need to have the controllers and the facility managers actually involved in those implementations big. because of covid we had to get everybody out of the facility who was not involved in that daily operation. it's very difficult to socially
distance and we did not want to expose any more of our employees the necessary to that public health risk. now that we have various public health measures in place, we are back in the facilities doing more training. and then more of this operational implementation so i expect the pace to pick up considerably here in the coming months. with respect to dynamic airspace management i know that my chief operating officer has met with you and your staff recently, and i agree with you that this is extremely important to us. we have demands being put on airspace now with commercial space, drones, we need to make sure traditional civil aviation is protected and of course military and national security needs are at the core of all that. we will continue to work through those issues. i know that we have some success here with the most recent exercise and we will continue to build on that. >> thank you, and now we appreciate all your help.
we are going to need your continued assistance in that space. as the b 21 is hopefully, before too long, enters that airspace for training purposes along with all the other air assets that are involved in these exercises. we thank you for your cooperation and hope it will continue to be able to assist us there. as you know, the faa issued a notice of policy september 2020 determining that certain uas type certificate it as the quote special class of aircraft and quote i appreciate your commitment to advancing -- uas into the national airspace system. however i'm concerned the agency has since not made more progress toward establishing applicable standards for types of certification with uas which will provide certainty to the industry maintaining the highest level of safety. could you talk about whether the faa remains committed to
establishing generally applicable standards for uas type certification and would actions have the faa taken to establish a generally applaudable standards for certification of special classes of uas since the publication of this notice? >> senator, you raise a very important issue and we are actively collaborating internally and with the u.s. industry on the approval process. as a matter of fact that met with several stakeholder groups here over the last couple of months. and we are developing an integrated schedule template that will identify the critical paths including the environmental elements. which will better inform applicants for certification throughout this process. bob we will use a risk based approach to certification a manned aircraft. we think that our existing rules will be able to accommodate any near term
operations, but we are also looking towards a future because we have got our mosaic modernization of weather certificates. and big this is underway. that will help us move to the next step of specificity out there for all of the stakeholders so they know exactly with more granular detail, what the requirements are going to be for these systems as they come to market. >> thank you. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, senator thune. , senator hickenlooper. >> your testimony and especially the difficult times that we have right now with the divisions and the country that i think are causing such disruptions in many ways, that the faa a foreign --
we saw demonstrated 5033 unruly passenger incidents this year. 227 of these resulted in enforcement cases being initiated and you wrote all u.s. airport officials stating that many of these passengers, unruly passengers were interviewed by local police and released without criminal charges of any kind. and you wrote when this occurs we miss a key opportunity to hold unruly passengers accountable. can you describe how clearly incidents are reported by faa to doj and law enforcement and how could that process maybe be improved to's spend more enforcement actions and make people aware that this is a serious issue? >> thank you for the question, senator. this has been something that has been -- i have been laser focused for
the entire year of this year. unruly passenger incidents are nothing new, but we have seen a several fold increase in them as you know. we have been successful at driving the rates down, but we still have a ways to go. it is very much a team effort and what we are focused on now is closing the seams between how airlines and airports and law enforcement and the federal government handled these issues. and so we have made a good bit of progress, but we've got more to go. we have referred a number of cases that we give the investigative packages to doj, but there are instances where at some airports where there will be a federal law enforcement response. this actually happened with one event that was in the news a couple of weeks ago. i think we are making good
progress, but there is certainly more to be done. it really does require the cooperation of all those private sector stakeholders and including the airports as well as the various aspects of federal government. if a tsa, and doj. and we will continue to stay focused on that. absolutely and there was one where -- i know it passed last week. a passenger broke a flight attendants knows! they diverted the flight into denver. obviously those issues that are so egregious, there's got to be a better way, as we hold that violent passenger accountable, we get into the media. so people here that this is something that is kind of just a passing news item but they
understand how serious it is. >> well, senator, i've been on social media, i've been on news reports, my face is at every airport in the country, i think, not something that i'm necessarily wanting to be remembered for. we are pulling out the stops. we have done memes, we've done everything that we can. i've even been on tmz, which i never thought i would be, to make sure that the public is aware of the importance of following crew instructions. the crews are there for passenger safety and this is a behavior that's not appropriate in an aviation environment. we need to get it under control. >> absolutely. and i think obviously covid is playing a big role in this. i think the fact that it's so hard to find employees and the tsa is still operating with significantly less than a full force, and the weights are very long, i fly out of denver all the time. but i flew out of atlanta
earlier this week and they were equally long long lines and i think that that is frustrating people. and i realize that you don't control tsa. but just quickly, in february, a boeing 737 made an emergency landing in denver because part of the engine caught fire midflight. debris from the engine scattering across, going to metro denver. preliminary ntsb report faulted engine fire. and may require strengthening of planes, to make sure we prevent this in the future. do you have an update on the investigation or what implementation of safety measures you would take or are being suggested? >> yes, senator. we are taking several actions here. we are increasing the inspection frequency of the fan blades. we've also recently approved
new inspection technology which is more effective in detecting internal cracks in these titanium blades. so that ultra sonic fan blade inspection process will now be the primary process. it's much more effective. we will still use it in combination with what had been used before the thermal acoustic imaging, which had been used before. our chief scientist for propulsion and u.s. air force research lab collaborated on this. and so we think that that will be very beneficial. >> great. >> and we should not have debris falling off of an airplane, that's not acceptable. so in our certification with actually aligns our engine and air frame certification within the same division to make sure
we are more tightly coordinated. and we are requiring airplane manufacturers to strengthen the design and that work will have to be done before those planes can take to the skies now. >> all right. mr. dickson, you've got one of the toughest jobs in the country, and i appreciate you taking some time to share the facts of these issues and what's being done. i yield back to the chair. >> we have senator sinema and then senator scott. and i see senator peters. we are all filing in here. >> thank you, madam chair, and thank you administrator dickson for your testimony. this committee is examining the aircraft safety and accountability act implementation. i was proud to support this bipartisan legislation to address and alleviate concerns with our aircraft systems. arizonans rely on safe aviation travel to bring tourists to arizona, the ship arizona products to customers and even
to take scenic flights above our scenic landscape. i say if aviation system is critical to my work. over the years, our subcommittee has held meetings on the tragic 737 accident and they need to improve infrastructure for our -- i appreciate the work the faa has done to improve safety but more needs to be done. i encourage you to keep working to keep implementing the certification statute. but administrator dickson, as you probably know, aviation is an important part of arizona system. arizona is home to four of the ten busiest airports in the country. tragically, on october 1st, there was a mid air collision between a small airplane and a helicopter near the chandler municipal airport that resulted in two fatalities. the ntsb is investigating the
collision. as we consider the safety of our entire system, what steps is the faa taking to improve general safety in arizona in aviation and across the country? >> thank you for the question, senator sinema. generally, aviation is absolutely critical. we have the largest general evaluation segment of any airspace in the world. and several years ago the faa had set the goal of reducing fatal accident rates for j.a. to less than one fatal accident for less than 1005 hours. this was a goal set to be met by 2018. and we were able to surpassed that goal. and so in 2019, we re-snapped the line for an additional 2% reduction by 2028. and up to this point, we are exceeding those projections. to the good.
we have done this by partnering with the general aviation joint steering committee, the general aviation counterpart to cats, the commercial aviation safety team. gagsc helps us examine trends and take action. over the last eight years we have adopted 47 safety and hansen's that are aimed at addressing the root causes of loss of control in engine failure actions, the primary causes. and those have been adopted over the past three years. we are also working on enhancements to the airman certification system and working with aviation stakeholders to improve testing in training standards as well. and finally, on the subject of
midair collisions, certainly there are beneficial technologies, such as -- that can be implemented within ga as well. >> thank you, administrator. in august, -- our legislation invest 25 billion dollars over 25 years for our nation's infrastructure, with five billion dollars for improving air traffic control. since -- aprons, taxiways and safety areas of every airport in the united states. the legislation alto takes a airport improvement program for the improvement of gates and intermodal connection facilities. besides improving the experience of airports, once this bill is passed it will also improve safety. can you describe how the 20 billion dollars will increase airport safety? >> sure. the infrastructure improvements with respect to airports would
definitely improve the safety and efficiency of our air transportation system. we already estimate a need of an excess of eight billion dollars in airport projects. and these requested projects exceed existing faa resources annually. our -- budget is normally in the range of 3.3 billion. and addition to terminals we will be able to do things like runway rehabilitation projects, which, as you know, can cost and the tens of millions of dollars each. and our multi year projects as well. so that's one specific improvement that. though we would be looking at. well >> thank, you madam, share my time has expired, i yield back. >> how are you doing? you know, you've seen all these videos of families being kicked
off airplanes because they're young children cannot keep their mask on for a long period of time. i heard lots of stories of people who have decided not to fly because they have young children and they know they're not going to be able to keep the mask on. can you talk about why the faa policy basically forces these airlines to keep these young families off planes because a young child can't do it? i don't know if you have young children or grandchildren but they're not great at keeping the mask on. >> senator, you know, i can't speak to public health in particular. but obviously we all want to get through the effects of the covid pandemic. and we certainly support what public health authorities have put in place in terms of the combination of regulations. but that's not an faa requirement, really. the important thing to me is
aviation safety and making sure that passengers on commercial aircraft follow crew member introductions. and if those requirements are -- whether faa or not -- and in this case they are not, we really need to -- whether they are company policies or federal quarantine, passengers need to comply. >> i've seen the reports about southwest and the air traffic controllers in jacksonville. the flights being canceled. it sure appears that it's going to continue to get worse. and then you watch, you know, people that are just completely concerned about this unconstitutional vaccine mandate by the president, that's going to impact jobs. it got the federal reserve reporting that vaccine mandates are causing a low labor supply. and issues with hiring and retention. so tell me, i mean -- what do you think is causing
these pilot shortages? what do you think is causing these cancellations of flights that are impacting peoples jobs across the country? >> well, senator, i've spoken with the air carriers and several pilot union leaders as well as our own leaders within the agency and at this point in time i am not seeing any staffing impact from the vaccine mandate itself. the event that we had a few weeks ago with southwest down in florida was due to a combination of factors. the difficulties that we are seeing with some airlines operations right now, frankly, is in my estimation, is do more to changes in consumer behavior. and all the algorithms they used to plan their schedules were disrupted in march of 2020. and leisure demand, i think as you well know, florida has been
-- there's been a lot of demand for leisure travel into florida. and that very close and demand signal is different from what the airlines had seen before. and so they are -- they probably don't have as much buffer in their schedules as they have had previously, as they would have liked. i know one of the airlines talked about that they have a couple thousand flight attendants who were in the process of being recalled from furlough. and so these kinds of things are just taking some time to catch up in the system and it is creating more operational exposure when you are disrupting events, such as convective weather in the systems. >> so do you think that the vaccine mandate by the president is going to cause any staffing shortages at all? we think it's going to impact -- anybody, it's going to impact the safety traveling of the
united states? >> senator, my absolute focus, would i can guarantee you, is that we will have a safe aviation system in the u.s.. and we are focused on -- >> excuse me, does that mean you have to shut down flights because we won't have enough air traffic controllers? we will still be safe we just won't have the. flights >> we have robust contingency plans in places that we have always. and we have ways that we can make adjustments as we need to but at this point in time not seeing any impact on safety and we will work to make sure that airspace is a veil-able. >> how many jobs in the aerospace industry are in any agencies you deal with -- air traffic controllers are going to be lost because of the vaccine mandate? any idea? >> i can speculate. >> all right. thank you very much. i'm going to turn it over now to senator rosen. >> well, thank you senator scott, appreciate that. and thank you administrator
dickson for being here today. i want to speak a bit about international information sharing and how we use that to enhance pilot training. because i'd like to follow up on an issue i raised two years ago, when this committee that was investigating the events that led to the 737 accidents. as you may know, in 2017, the brazilian national civil aviation agency came to the u.s. to test the boeing 737 max eight and they determined that the changes made to the aircraft from the previous models were substantially enough to warrant requests to boeing for more information about the plains systems. as a result of this additional information from boeing, when the brazilian national civil aviation agency published its updated pilot training requirements, they were able to fly mcas as one of the changes that pilots need to account for when they were flying the max 8. when he testified in october
2019, i asked boeing ceo why this information was not flagged for other customers who lacked the 737 max in their fleet for more information sharing. and he didn't respond. and so more information sharing in this case could have been extremely beneficial. so administrator dickson, faa is a global leader in aviation safety. and as such we have a responsibility to share critical information about aircraft systems with the international communities. in the case of brazil, better communication between national civil aviation agencies could have saved lives. so i'd like to, ask if the faa were in the same position as brazil civil aviation agency, with max a, what would we have done had we received information about a new aircraft so important that it lead to significant changes in pilot training requirements, would we share that with others?
is it policy and practice in faa to make such information available to the international community? >> well, senator rosen, i can say unequivocally, s. yes. i think one of the positive aspects that we have been through over the last couple of years is the collaboration and work between states of design and aviation authorities, it is stronger than it ever has been. so we would absolutely share any relevant information that we had regarding pilot training or information, that needed to be provided to flight crews. with other authority. and i will emphasize also that the changes that we are putting in place are designed to make sure that no single point of vulnerability or no single individual can lead to a failure of the system. we want to have those
additional layers of recency put into the process. and what you are pointing out is right on the line with what i'm talking about. >> i appreciate. that heavy set up? is there any setup for collaboration ensuring, this kind of important sharing between countries? i mean, i know we would do it. and that's great. but other countries, are they going to respond the same? is there a forum for that? and if there isn't, should there be? and how do we make that happen? >> yes, there is a form. it's called the certification management team, the cmt, and it consists of the four countries that are involved in the certifying transport category aircraft. and that construct has actually been greatly strengthened because of the collaboration that we have executed here over the last couple of years as part of going through this
process. >> thank, you appreciate, that i'd like to just quickly ask about if a certification workforce. a 2015 audit found that the faa at the time lacked comprehensive process for determining aircraft certification service staffing means critical for effective oversight and other certification activities. i just kind of like to go quickly to the question, i'd like to build on that discussion, administrator dickson, what can you tell us about faa's current certification workforce needs? and how can congress better work with you to meet those needs? we need to have a robust certification workforce to prevent any injury or loss of life. >> as i mentioned earlier, we have nearly doubled our number of human factors experts. we will continue to need data scientists and we will need to continue to have those
engineers in emerging technologies and disciplines. software engineers, so the ability to be able to adequately -- there's much more of these systems, that are software driven now. so that certainly a need that we are currently well resourced for but we need to work closely with the congress to make sure that we stay ahead of developments as we move forward. >> s.t.e.m. education and training is key. i see my time is up. i am not sure if anyone is there but i think senator peters, you were after me, if i heard that correctly? >> not sure if senator peters is available. >> oh, sorry. chair cantwell, i did know you are, backstory. >> you are doing a great ritual job of cheering, thank you so much. >> [laughs] >> if senator peters is here we can certainly call on him but i think he stepped away. senator markey?
>> thank you, madam chair. madam chair, i want to recognize the victims of these crashes and their families, including michael and nadia -- , who are here today, and whose daughter was tragically killed in the ethiopian airlines 737 max crash. these families are here for justice and -- in protections for ethiopian -- we thank you for being here and we thank you for standing vigil for all of those families. and we are so sorry for your tragic loss and we will make sure that your message is heard at the faa. thank you. [inaudible] >> after more than two years of investigations, it is clear that boeing abused the
authority delegated to the faa to certify its own aircraft. boeing not only cut countless corners to maximize profit at the expense of safety but it also intentionally misled the faa in order to avoid more rigorous scrutiny of new technologies installed on the 737 max, including the flight control system that caused both tragic knows dies in indonesia and ethiopia. this committee's passage of the aircraft safety and certification reform act was a necessary first step to making sure that this can never happen again. but as today's hearing makes clear, this law is not fully implemented and the danger of self certifying aircraft remains even today, which is unbelievable. it's also clear that boeing has not truly learned its lesson. after giving its former ceo who oversaw production of the max a
60 million-dollar golden parachute, giving its new ceo a 7 million dollar bonus for rushing the 737 -- these examples do not reflect a company that has going to prioritize safety over profit. that's why i stand with the families of the victims of these crashes, who have sent a letter calling for the faa to suspend boeing's delegated authority to certify aircraft until trust is restored. we thank you for your letter and i know, madam chair, even clued in the record and i think it's just so important that this become part of our history. >> it will be part of the record. >> -- that congress relies upon. administrator dickson, will you suspend boeing's delegated authority until congress aircraft certification villas fully implemented and boeing has conclusively proven that it has changed its ways? >> senator markey, thanks for the question.
we have that -- relationship with boeing in no uncertain terms. we have limited delegation of various items. as i said a moment ago, the certificates, we are retaining full control over that. one of the improvements that's been put in place is boeing's safety management system. that is revealing issues much earlier than there were previously. and we are seeing results. it's making our oversight more effective and systematic. we conduct regular performance reviews and we will continue to draw on those improvements. >> i know. let me just say this. limiting delegation is just not enough. we cannot trust boeing until the systems that unable and cause these tragedies are fully fixed. and i urge you to take back the faa's full certification authorities. just take it all back. that's just the bottom line on
this, mister administrator. i also want to strongly urge you to finish implementing to overdo congressional mandates on the faa reauthorization act of 2018. first, while i'm glad that the faa has finally published its proposed rule to increase the amount of flight attendant rust hours, you must finalize this proceeding without delay. and second, the faa needs to rapidly advance the requirement and install secondary cockpit barriers on new airplanes, which will protect our crews and passengers from being -- who might rush the flight. deck it's essential to get these rules done, and administrator dickson, will you complete them in the near future? >> we are fully committed to completing them and i share your frustrations, senator, at how long these processes take. >> how do you prioritize those --
>> yes, we have. >> so what's your timeline for finishing those rules? >> we are moving forward with -- we have the npr am out on the flight attendant rest period. we are in the process of finalizing the proposal on secondary barriers and that nprm should be out in the coming months. it's a good bit more technically complicated. but we want to make sure that we are able to account for as much data as we can on the front end. because it will actually get us to the destination. >> we'll do them right into them fast. >> i share your urgency and your emphasis. >> we also have to address aviation aviation cybersecurity. planes are increasingly computerized. these technologies offer enormous potential to improve safety and efficiency but it will only take one hacker to
cause a disaster. that's why i will soon reintroduce my cybersecurity standards for aircraft improve resilience act, or the cyber act, and this will require the disclosure of information related to cyber attacks on our aviation system as well as built strong cybersecurity standards, directly into our air carrier and certification processes. administrator dickson, do you agree that we need to require enhanced cybersecurity and aviation before tragedy strikes? >> yes, senator, i do. >> well, i thank you for that. but ultimately i think we are going to need pass legislation, having had a chance to look at my legislation -- >> -- i have not seen the specifics but we currently have protocols in place for avionics. this is, again, an evolving
area. airplanes are much more software driven, as you state, these days. and so we need to make sure that there are adequate layers of protection in there. i look forward to working with you on. the >> airplanes today are just flying computers and totally hack-able. the extent to which -- this is not a subject that has been addressed properly yet. we are in a dangerous period of time. again, i urge you to move quickly and i think, as well, it should be backed up with legislation. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, senator markey. i'm not aware of other members -- i know senator peters joined us shortly on video but i'm not sure if he is returning or anyone else. so i will tell members that i'm going to do a second round here and i will see if anyone else appears for questions. if not, we will close out the hearing. administrator, one of the
issues that we have heard a lot about in the certification process and it's come up a couple of times, is the fact that the law requires, on the change product rule, to change the process, and yet i think you are saying it's going to take years to do that by rulemaking. and yet we still have a process underway for certifying planes. and so what are you putting in place now to make sure that you have the workforce and the people to review that process while the changed product rule is in development? shouldn't the faa produce policies to close the loophole in the meantime? >> senator -- chair cantwell, absolutely. we are working this on two tracks. we have minor doing a study of workforce criteria, for significant changes, for the changed product rule, to drive
those decision criteria. and we have also stood up the international authorities working group, they have already met several times and they will continue and should provide recommendations to us by next summer on harmonizing the changed product rule across states of design, so it's consistent regardless of where -- >> i'm a little more worried about the right now. i mean, this was a pretty big change in the system that allowed technology to outpace our focus on it. and we don't want to see that happen again. so we don't need anything else to happen to know that we need to put something in place. it was already asked to be put in place, so that we would have it today. so this is the issue if you are producing a plane that is a derivative of a product. and this is the challenge that we face. we were very clear in the law,
we said everybody, every plane has to go through a systems analysis on anything that is different. so -- >> chair cantwell, that is actually happening now. so any critical design components requires validation. anything that touches human factors and additional human factors folks that we've got in the agency, they are laser focused on the issue. we are also involving them throughout the process, not just to design approval but also, for continued operation safety, once the airplane is actually out there flying. so that data is actually coming back and informing the certification process, where it wasn't, to such a degree, before. >> well, back to mr. wong, because i do -- i mean, i think he is trying to get the information in his may
13th letter where he basically said that there was not an enough information on the 777-9 on their common core system, on their communication system. if you look at this work for the letter, it is, quote, on modulated avionics architecture that provides a shared input output resources to provide for the in face interface need for multiple planes. so it sounds very similar to us saying, we want to understand what the software does. similar to the mcas system. and so my question is, here is somebody who is doing what we asked. and just, you know, for the context, there are more than, i think, 1600 -- i'm sorry, thousands of -- members. these are professional members and in the northwest. they are our friends and our
neighbors. they are working and putting their name behind a product, or they would like to put the name behind the product. but they need this backed up by the faa. and here we have someone on the ground who is saying, yes, i'm going to make sure that we slow down and look at this. but when we look at the fact that the boeing oversight office in aviation, the faa office, overlooking the boeing manufacturing, is basically at a static engineering level for decades, how do you expect that we are going to be able to do this oversight? and be able to really understand and keep pace with this technology? >> well, chair cantwell, it's again -- we have increased engineering resources within the basotho. but we also have the certificate management office at boeing which oversees the production side of the house. and all the operators that
operate boeing aircraft. we are integrating them so that we can leverage all the expertise in these processes. and make sure that -- the is more effective than its process. and in this particular letter, part of what we are dealing with is the issue of what our expectations are for submissions. and that is something that is an early part of my conversations with boeing leadership. you've got to give us the full picture. you can't give us a portion of it and then say, well, you'll get us everything next week. so this is just really really snapping that line to make sure that the applicants that we are overseeing is giving us a complete system picture when they ask for us to move to the next milestone in an approval process. >> and to senator markey's, i
know there was a repeal of an o da authority. at what point would you take that step? jim >> well, at this point, we are -- if we saw that they were not meeting our expectations on a consistent basis, or if we saw anything in their, in their safety management systems or their data, where they weren't making the necessary cultural or transparency improvements, then we would go down a path at some point. >> well, again -- we are going to have to have our own report. and our own reporting of what we've been told by various whistleblowers. but it's clear that the process has changed. that this process of collaboration and solving problems is now changed into the -- well, at least from what we've heard, the faa not even asking the oda members to produce documentation about testing and
information. that literally doesn't comply -- doesn't comply, yes or no? so we have to build this workforce, we have to believe in them, they are our early warning system when something is wrong. and you have to back them up. so, again, i'm asking you, because i don't see the workforce improvement at the seattle office that you are describing. i think we are at a total of 52 people, 32 of which are engineers. so i don't think that that's changed much over the years. so how have you, since these accidents, improve the seattle oversight office? >> again, i will get you the current numbers. but we have increased our resources. and i know because i have sat down with them personally. our people feel empowered and backed up as they never have been before. and that's helping them to be more effective.
which i think was part of what you were really focusing on in the legislation, the appointment of the unit member advisers, is creating a direct communication path to make sure that there is no interference with that line of communication between -- >> now the direct communication path. that simply makes it sounds like it's about communication. it's on authority oversight on whether this is going to move forward or not. >> but the awareness in terms of what the issues are and not allowing the employer to interfere with issues that are brought forward, directed to the agency. that is going to help us be much more informed, and our oversight much more effective. >> well, i look forward to seeing this list of people that you say that you've enhanced the office with. what do you think the skill level is to do certification oversight? >> the -- >> i mean, what's the skill
level of the person that had this up for you at the faa? >> well, we need aeronautical engineers, we need software engineers. and i think that there is a growing need in that area. that was something that i think, with newer platforms, we are seeing how the systems are interfacing with each other. but it's more and more a part of the architecture of newer model aircraft. and so that's an area that we will be focused on. but you are always going to have engineers, mechanical engineers and others, and other aerospace disciplines. but it is transforming to more of, how do all of these automated systems on the aircraft interface with each other? and i think as we go into the coming years, we will need to build a workforce on things like artificial intelligence as well. >> well, you and i may agree with that point on software, but i don't think there's been
enough attention that's been paid to this, either at the skill level of understanding this, particularly from an oversight perspective, but also at the company. and when it comes to this issue of overload in the cockpit on various alerts and understanding, particularly -- look, i think you saw even in your own private background, that you had pilots complain about the automation system and the fact that there was so much happening. in these automated systems. so the question is, what do you need to do to make sure that we get this automation right? and i think, to me, there seems to be this task that we also outlined in the bill. you know, when you are now doing oversight of a new software system, that is going to be so critical, i would think the faa would produce a document that says, these are the things that we expect to understand. and that you would get that integrated team that we asked for right now on software, stood up, and pounding on those
kind of questions that you would want answered from that system. so they are not simply relying on the information presented. again, this is a huge transformation that's continuing in aviation. but it's not only in aviation, it's happening in vehicles, this committee is struggling with the same oversight as it relates to unmanned -- to cars and other issues. so it's getting your team and getting people to do that oversight now on the technical skill side and getting the right level of workforce. i just don't see that level of urgency in the faa action. so i would ask you to do that. and to make that a number one priority as you move forward. >> it is an extremely high priority, chair cantwell, and i will get you that additional insight. >> well, it's essential to fulfilling the law.
okay? so i have a larger, broader question, which is, just about the process. and this is, again, the perfect example of this one 777's shoe. when you are submitting design data to the faa for a finding of compliance, shouldn't the applicant certify in writing to the faa that the data complies with all of the applicable airworthiness standards? >> yes, that's correct. >> okay. and that that is assigned is not comply with the air applicable standards, the design should be brought into compliance before the faa certifies the aircraft? >> yes, that's correct. >> okay. well, i don't know that that happens. i'm not sure that that's what's happening. again, if we go back down the system, there are a lot of checks on a list of issues. but not on final compliance
with that information. and i think that's what's missing in the system. and i think we are going to look at that. and i look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we make sure and how we make that standard. i appreciate your answer on that. . i thought we had one more question that we want to go over. my colleague, the two issues on the air force side, the stand up of the air grant program. this is similar to the sea grant program, and getting here on the hill. i'm proud of my colleagues here today. you can see that many of them have been following this. but i think it's easy to say that the oversight of the faa on this issue means a more
technical staff here on the hill, in addition. and throughout the policymaking realm i'm very pleased with what the sea grant fellows have been able to achieve. because they brought a lot of scientific knowledge as it relates to our noaa or fisheries oversight. what's it going to take to get that stood up? >> i look forward to working with. you it's a great idea, i think. and something that would, i think, improve. the collaboration with the committee. and make sure that we are more effective in our implementation. and frankly lay a solid foundation for the future. as you said. >> yes, okay. and the same -- i think one of my colleagues may have asked about the same i had voldemort of going to ikea and making sure we're setting the same international sanders.
correct, on pilot training? >> yes, so that we are not going to allow us slippage of the standard set by pilots on international basis. we're going to very much understand the manufacturing of plans with integrated software systems. but we're also still going to have a skill pilot at the helm. two pilots who know how to fly the plane and those systems are turned off. >> right, and i think ikeo is important, but we can't rely on ikeo. we've got to help authorities around the world to implement the requirements that we're talking about here. because that's going to really raise the bar in terms of not only pilot training but also maintenance programs. anyone operating in, this case a u.s. product that.
any airplane in commercial operation anywhere in the world. we want to work with those authorities. so things that i've talked about reforms before. recovery training, flight path management. as we implement those beneficial changes in the united states, we want to work through ikeo to get the standard set, but then we also have to go to the individual aviation authorities to make sure they're implementing the systems around the world. >> we want the united states to be a leader on what is required for both the manufacturers and for the skill set that it takes for flying planes. >> yes. >> so we want the faa to set that standard here and we want you to be allowed advocate for on an international basis. >> could not agree more. >> thank you. >> according to my information, the d.o.t. iot report of february this year said there's only been one engineer added to the seattle office since the
tragedies. so, i think there's some resolution here of what's really the fact and information, so i'll look forward to getting that information from you. i just firmly believe having the right staffing and integrated teams to advise you right now. not waiting for their moment and clarifying this change product rule process will be critical. okay, but very much appreciate mr. wong doing his job and standing at. so i think that makes the hearing for us today. the record will remain open till december 1st 2021. any senators that would like to submit questions for the record and four witnesses should do so by november 17th of this year. and we ask responses be returned no later than december