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Congress on the brink of major FAA oversight

So, Congress and the Justice Department have finally finished their many, months-long investigation into the Boeing crashes. This article spells out the changes that Congress will insist be implemented going forward to avoid the kind of scheming and criminal negligence that caused all those families to lose their loved ones. But other than being the end of the story, ie: change this, change that and life goes on, it is just the beginning of the misery for those people responsible. Now the fireworks, the criminal charges, the many lawsuits against management and the Board of Directors, can really begin. In fact, with all the deflections to blame anything and anyone other than management and the Board, as advised by Boeing’s lawyers to “change the narrative” (most likely the most expensive, corporate defense team ever assembled), the suits could not actually start until now. They needed the proof outlined in this report.  Congress on the brink of major FAA oversight

They needed Peter DeFazio, Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation to hold his Congressional hearings where they grilled Boeing Chairman Dennis Muilenburg. They needed the time to interview dozens if not hundreds of people to understand, catalogue and confirm what really happened and why. Now the Justice Department and the lawyers representing the families have all that ammo to go after the bastards. It will still be some number of years before it all sorts out, but don’t think it won’t. What we know beyond a doubt is that “What Goes Around Comes Around.” 

The time it takes to come around can be deceptive from case to case depending on the resources, charm, cleverness and intelligence of the offenders (none of whom obviously believed those words applied to them), but at the end of the day, rest assured they will all pay exactly the right price. Note the sad-sack Sackler family and their enablers, the famous McKinsey Consultants as they squirm under the glare. Note the Boy Scouts of America, The Catholic Church, Bernie Madoff, Eliot Spitzer. 

It takes however long it takes for reasons difficult at times to discern. But the rule is that the longer that time is, the deeper the pit is dug when the light finally shines on them with no place left to hide. For Boeing’s management and Board that calculation is just getting under-way.

~ Rob


Congress on the brink of major FAA oversight reform in wake of Boeing 737 MAX crashes

A sweeping reform of how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves new commercial aircraft is on the brink of passage in Congress, propelled by a rare bipartisan push and public outrage over the Boeing 737 MAX crashes that killed 346.

Democrats and Republicans in U.S. House and Senate committees reached agreement in down-to-the wire negotiations a week ago on a bill tailored to address the FAA’s oversight failures in its original certification of the MAX.

The legislation is incorporated into the massive $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that Congress must pass to avoid a government shutdown. The bill, merged with the $900 billion COVID relief package agreed Sunday, was made public Monday and will be voted on likely the same day, making passage into law all but certain.

According to details of the bill obtained by The Seattle Times, the legislation strengthens the FAA’s direct oversight of the Boeing engineers who conduct safety assessments on behalf of the agency.

While the FAA would still delegate to Boeing a great deal of the certification work on future aircraft, new provisions aim to ensure the FAA’s safety experts keep a closer eye on how that work proceeds and that Boeing’s cost and schedule targets don’t dominate decision making.

While the FAA would still delegate to Boeing a great deal of the certification work on future aircraft, new provisions aim to ensure the FAA’s safety experts keep a closer eye on how that work proceeds and that Boeing’s cost and schedule targets don’t dominate decision making.

The measure requires an upfront review of any critical new technology systems before any decision is made to delegate certification of those systems, including scrutiny by an independent panel of experts from other federal agencies such as NASA and the Air Force.

And the agency cannot delegate any oversight work until it has reviewed and validated the underlying assumptions related to pilot reactions to system failures.

These clauses reverse the yearslong trend of increasing delegation to the manufacturer that culminated in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act. That law, passed just a month before the first MAX crash of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia in October 2018, mandated maximum delegation of certification work by requiring the FAA to make a case if it wanted any specific piece of the oversight work not to be delegated.

In an interview, Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, who before the MAX crashes was an advocate of more delegation but aggressively pushed the new legislation in the Senate Commerce Committee, said that relentless trend toward industry self-certification is now over.

“We’re putting a big stop sign in the road right here,” Cantwell said.

The bill provides that the Boeing engineers assigned to work on behalf of the FAA must be approved or removed not by the company, as is the case now, but by the federal agency. And each will have a direct line of communication with an FAA safety inspector acting as an adviser and overseer of the work.

One damning finding of a major investigation into certification of the 737 MAX was that Boeing presented to the FAA only fragmented and partial information about the new flight control system that caused the crashes — the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

Under the new legislation, any such critical new system design must undergo a comprehensive safety analysis of how it might affect existing systems and the assumptions made about how pilots would react to system failures.

The bill also provides that an individual supervisor at Boeing or another manufacturer who exerts undue pressure on staff doing the certification work, or who fails to disclose safety critical information to the FAA, can be held personally liable and subject to heavy civil penalties.

Kirkus Reviews, the gold-standard for independent & accurate reviews, has this to say about

What Goes Around Comes Around:

A stable, positive, non preachy, objective voice makes the book stand apart from others in the genre. The author gives readers not just points or principles to ponder, but real human experiences that demonstrate them. A successful guide that uses anecdotes to reveal powerful truths about life.

~ Kirkus Reviews

“A stable, positive, non-preachy, objective voice makes the manual stand apart from others in the genre.  A successful guide that uses anecdotes to reveal powerful truths about life.” – Kirkus Reviews

“I’ve read a number of books that focus on sharing a similar message, including “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, “The Answer” by John Assaraf & Murray Smith, “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield, “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill, and I must say that I find Rob’s to be my favorite. – Sheryl Woodhouse, founder of Livelihood Matters LLC

Boeing’s Problems Predate the Virus. Should the U.S. Come to Its Rescue?

Boeing’s Problems Predate the Virus. Should the U.S. Come to Its Rescue?