Citing a series of recent aviation safety incidents, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration has ordered a sweeping review of the agency.
“We are experiencing the safest period in aviation history, but we cannot take this for granted,” Billy Nolen, the acting FAA administrator, wrote in a memo. “Recent events remind us that we must not become complacent.”
His memo comes after a technological breakdown led to the first nationwide airplane departure grounding since the 9/11 attacks, and two significant events where airliners nearly collided at the runways of major US airports.
One focus of the safety review team will be determining “whether there are other incidents that resemble ones we have seen in recent weeks.” It will also look at ways to better integrate the FAA’s air traffic control arm into the agency’s broader safety efforts.
The review will include participants from the industries that are regulated and served by the FAA, Nolen wrote. Leaders representing commercial aviation and labor unions will gather for a March meeting to discuss ways to “maintain our safety record.”
“We must ensure that our structure is fit for purpose for the U.S. aerospace system of both today and the Future,” Nolen’s memo reads. “We know that our aviation system is changing dramatically. Now is the time to act.”
Nolen is set to appear before Congress Wednesday to address the computer outage that halted flight departures nationwide last month.