This category contains 6 posts

FAA Funding Extended Through January 31, 2012

As we reported earlier, the deal to extend FAA funding through January 31, 2012 is in place.  The Senate approved the extension bill yesterday.  The House had approved this earlier this week.

While this permits the FAA to operate for a few more months, the continuing resolution still fails to permit the FAA to confidently develop a strategic plan for the nation’s aviation infrastructure.


Congress Likely to Extend FAA Funding through January 31, 2012

It appears that there is a deal in place to extend funding of FAA projects beyond the end of the calendar year.

The House Rules Committee posted an aviation extension bill that would extend the FAA’s project funding (and the FAA’s authority to collect the ticket taxes that fund aviation infrastructure improvement) through January 31, 2012.  The name of the bill is the “Surface and Air Transportation Programs Extension Act of 2011.”  The FAA’s portion of the bill is known as the “Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2011, Part V.”

No other strategic planning or other aviation decisions are made in this extension.

The House is expected to vote on this continuing resolution this week.  Authority for spending on FAA projects (based on the current continuing resolution) ends at the end of this week.

House Passes FAA Reauthorization Bill

The House has passed their version of the FAA Reauthorization Bill.  It passed by a vote of 223-196.

A summary of the bill can be found online at  The bill text (before amendments) can be found online.

The bill cuts FAA funding by $4 billion over the next four years.

The bill adds production privileges to Certified Design Organizations (CDO), turning them in to Certified Design and Production Organizations (CDPOs).  The bill also affirms the deadline for CDPO is January 1, 2013.

The bill requires a study of certification and approval mechanisms.  It must estimate the expected number of applications for production certifications and approvals and recommend process reforms necessary to allow the Administrator to review and approve the applications in a fair and timely fashion.  Congress also expects the study to address methods for enhancing the effective use of delegation systems, including organizational designation authorization (ODA).

The bill would establish an advisory committee to address inconsistent regulatory interpretation.

The bill reverses a recent decision of the National Mediation Board (NMB), which we had discussed in this blog on June 2, 2010. The NMB decision made it easier for unions to organize employers in the airline and rail industries, and conformed these industries with the labor practices of other industries; however, the decision had changed 75 years of precedent in the airline and rail industries.  The Bill wold reverse the decision and return collective bargaining to the status quo.

The bill would also strengthen the FAA’s requirements to perform certain cost-benefit analysis.  The recent drug-testing-reg-flex debacle had undermined public confidence in the FAA’s ability to perform statutorily-required cost-benefit analysis.

The bill would require the FAA to verify that each certified foreign repair station has been subject to a safety assessment.

The bill must be conferenced with the Senate version in order to come up with a final version.

EASA Executive Director Goudou Briefs on the Activities of EASA

EASA Executive Director Patrick Goudou welcomed the community to the FAA EASA International Safety Meeting with some very brief comments.  The FAA EASA International Safety Meeting opened in New Orleans on June 8, 2010.  The FAA EASA International Safety Meeting is an opportunity for the government of the world to coordinate their aviation safety regulatory and implementation efforts.

The recent Icelandic volcano issue has shown how important it is for the aviation authorities of the world to work together on aviation safety.  He expressed his appreciation for the focus of the Conference on safety management.

EASA is working on several operations-based rulemaking activities, based on its 2008 mandate for EASA to regulate Flight Crew Licensing.  They are reviewing stake holder comments on Flight Crew Licensing, Authority and Organization Requirements, Operational Suitability/Safety Directives, and Air Operations of [European] Community Operations.  EASA opinions are scheduled to be published by mid-2011 and implementing rules should be adopted by April 2012.

They are also working with Eurocontrol on Air Traffic Management and Air Navigation System rules, and they plan to have implementing regulations adopted by the end of 2012.

EASA has signed agreements with all of the ECAC states that are not part of the European Community, so that they will be following the EASA regulations.

EASA has been creating electronic courses to provide technical training on European regulations as well as the European bilateral.  The aim of these projects is to provide better (and more readily available) education on the requirements of the EASA rules and governing documents.

Europe has been implementing a State Safety Program (European Aviation Safety Programme) to meet the ICAO SSP requirements.  The objective of this plan will be to have a framework for dealing with common high level issues in Europe.  They will use safety risk analysis to focus their resources on the most important safety issues, and they will coordinate their efforts with the SSPs of each of the member states.  One goal of this program is to encourage a “just culture” paradigm in Europe.

EASA has formed a European Aviation Safety Advisory Committee to advise the Management Board of the Agency on safety strategy issues.

EASA will host an International Air Safety and Climate Change Conference in Cologne on September 8-9, 2010.  The focus will not be on the impact of aviation on climate change; rather the focus will be on the impact of climate change on civil aviation.  One focus area will be an examination of how certification standards need to change to reflect climate change issues.

EASA has been standardizing its internal processes, and they plan for the entire organization to be ISO 9001 certified by the end of 2010.  The FAA’s Aviation Safety organization is ISO 9001 certified.

FAA Associate Administrator Gilligan Provides an Update on FAA Priorities

The global aviation safety community met in New Orleans on June 8, 2010 at the FAA EASA International Safety Meeting.  The  FAA EASA International Safety Meeting is an opportunity for the government of the world to coordinate their aviation safety regulatory and implementation efforts.  FAA Associate Administrator Peggy Gilligan provided an update on US aviation safety activities.

Gilligan explained that the FAA Reauthorization Bill is still under development.  The House and Senate have passed their different versions and those pieces of legislation are awaiting reconciliation.  Reconciliation will lead to a harmonized vision of the strategic plan for the FAA.  The delay in achieving this final legislation, though, has an effect on the entire international aviation community.

Our international aviation community is a network of networks, and we are all inter-reliant.  The Icelandic volcano was a good example of how the entire community is affected by a domestic event.  When our community recognized a need to work together on the issue, ICAO pulled all of the world’s governments together to work on this issue together.  This shows that what happens in one nation can affect all of us together.

Thus, it is particularly important that the world’s governments work together to achieve the goals that will support NextGen.  This means developing a proactive approach to safety management and just culture.  And this is why the FAA feels that SMS is an important element to develop the ideals that will support effective use of the NextGen system.

Peggy Gilligan also provided a quick update on some of the recent changes in her organization.  She explained that Jay Pardee is leading the FAA’s Accident Prevention and Investigation Service, and Tony Fazio is his deputy.  This is an expanded role for the traditional accident investigation group, and it is intended to permit them to implement a State Safety Program that examines data to proactively prevents aviation safety hazards in the future.  The group is able to eapand its role to include proactive accident prevention because the FAA has been so successful in limiting accidents, and this group’s expertise is well suited to analyzing data to prevent hazards from arising in the future.  John Allen (Director of the FAA Flight Standards Service) and John McGraw have been joined by Ray Towles in the leadership of Flight Standards.  Ray Towles will take over as Deputy Director for the Field.  McGraw continues to be Deputy Director for Policy.

FAA Charts a New Course, Promoting Professionalism

The FAA announced a new focus on professionalism as an element supporting the NextGen system.

The FAA EASA International Safety Meeting opened in New Orleans today (June 8, 2010).  The FAA EASA International Safety Meeting is an opportunity for the government of the world to coordinate their aviation safety regulatory and implementation efforts.  Industry is invited to support those efforts.

David Grizzle keynoted the meeting.  Grizzle is currently acting as the Deputy Administrator, but his normal role is FAA Chief Counsel.

He noted that the FAA does not want to be perceived as presumptuous.  As an example, he noted that the US FAA was asked to get involved in responding to the Icelandic volcano.  In responding to those requests, he explained that the FAA wanted to provide support where it was needed, but the FAA did not want to be seen as claiming special knowledge.

This became an issue because the United States would have approached the volcano issue differently, but did not want to interfere with European decisions.  Grizzle explained that air carriers have excellent systems, and they have the resources that can help them make flight decisions.  Thus, the FAA would have trusted existing air carrier systems to prevent unsafe flight operations.  So in Europe when the governments closed down broad swaths of airspace, this was a different approach than what the US would have done.

The US is working with its counterparts in other nations to coordinate international development of NextGen.  Nextgen represents a significant culture change.  So the FAA is trying to ake the underlying principles of NextGen and trying to let them become pervasive principles that pervade the operations of the agency and the industry.  Grizzle explained that Nextgen is not just about technology – it is about standards and operating principles.  One of these is the principle of partnership.  There is an element of collaboration in air traffic management that is elemental to Nextgen and that simply does not yet exist in today’s air traffic management paradigms.  Another element is performance based safety standards.  Instead of telling operators how to achieve safety, they will give them standards that must be met and permit the operators to choose their own strategies for meeting those safety standards.  This gives rise to a new emphasis on professionalism.  Some of the recent problems in aviation have been attributable to a deficiency of professionalism – violations of norms and standards that no one finds acceptable.

Discussions of professionalism can be uncomfortable because, like ethics, professionalism can be somewhat difficult to quantify, and it can be somewhat difficult to define in a way that is uniformly accepted.

Professionalism means that the individuals are principle-based actors, and not just followers of rules.  This involves a mindset and attitude about the conduct of one’s life that is more pervasive than the norm.  This poses a challenge for the FAA and other aviation authorities about how do we teach professionalism.

The FAA is trying to focus on a “just culture” paradigm.  Part of the “just culture” paradigm is the idea is that we do not punish people for good faith mistakes (assuming the accidental actor reports and proactively works with the FAA to seek preventative paradigms), but rather we try to learn from those mistakes and we use the information learned from those incidents to prevent future problems.  This “just culture” paradigm is about focusing on behavior rather than outcome.  But there will be a challenge in trying to convince people that identifying remedies and preventative paradigms is more important to long-term safety than allocating blame.

An important element of this “just culture” paradigm is rewarding energetic good faith reporting.  If we encourage reporting, then we encourage data collection that supports a risk-based reporting environment.

Grizzle made a call for leadership from the entire international aviation community in order to make our professionals, the leaders that we all need them to be.