An international panel created after two Boeing 737 MAX crashes is expected to recommend the Federal Aviation Administration change the way it certifies planes and address safety concerns that aircraft technology is becoming far more sophisticated than the regulations that govern it, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN.
The Joint Authorities Technical Review, or JATR is in the “final stages of completing their work” and is expected to issue its report as soon as next week, according to the source.
It is comprised of US officials and representatives from nine foreign safety agencies and was organized by the FAA to review the US aircraft certification processes, including the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX.
The panel is preparing to make several recommendations, the source said, that will be presented to the FAA. It is not clear if the agency plans to accept or publicly release the recommendations.
The recommendations will include detailed ways “to address deficiencies,” the source said.
The source acknowledged the strong safety record of the U.S. aviation industry thanks in part to the FAA’s oversight, but the most recent deadly crashes suggest room for improvement.
In particular, the JATR has been looking into ways to prevent issues from slipping through the cracks, as appears to have happened with the MCAS automated stabilization system that investigators believe is linked to both MAX crashes.
The JATR’s work is separate from the review FAA will conduct of the 737 MAX to determine when to allow it to fly again in the US.
Its conclusions and recommendations could, though, prove to be a bellwether for how other countries will handle the decisions allow the plane to resume flying through their own airspace. Some in the aviation community have said worldwide confidence in the FAA has been shaken, and that other countries’ aviation authorities may be less willing to trust the FAA’s eventual determination that the MAX is safe to fly.
The FAA has said the panel’s areas of focus include the design and certification of the MAX, compliance with federal regulations and specifically its “automated flight control system.”
In a statement, the FAA said: “The FAA’s certification of the Boeing 737 MAX is the subject of several independent reviews and investigations that will examine all aspects of the five-year effort. While the agency’s certification processes are well-established and have consistently produced safe aircraft designs, we welcome the scrutiny from these experts and look forward to their findings. We will carefully review all recommendations and will incorporate any changes that would improve our certification activities.”
The panel also examined the FAA’s controversial Organization Designation Authorization program, a mandate from Congress that allows Boeing employees selected by the company to evaluate aircraft parts and systems for compliance with FAA requirements.
While FAA says some type of certification delegation is necessary due to the sheer volume of work and increasingly complex technology, critics say it puts too much power in the hands of the manufacturers like Boeing with insufficient government oversight.
The panel’s work began in late April and the FAA initially said it was expected to take about three months.