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November 25, 2020 2:00 PM, EST

Senate Commerce Committee Approves Airline Safety Bill

Sen. Roger Wicker at a hearing in May 2020. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News)Sen. Roger Wicker speaks at a hearing in May. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News)

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Legislation designed to advance safety improvements across the aviation industry was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee Nov. 18.

The Aircraft Safety and Certification Reform Act would adopt provisions pertaining to lessons learned from the Boeing 737 MAX crashes in recent years.

Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said, “The committee’s approval of the bipartisan aviation safety bill is progress toward improving the certification process and enhancing accountability, especially as it relates to the manufacturing of passenger aircraft.”

Aviation Amendment by Transport Topics

The panel noted provisions in the bill were based on evidence from accident reports, recommendations from experts, insight from stakeholders and congressional hearings on aviation safety.

Specifically, the bill would require the Federal Aviation Administration to approve the appointment, as well as develop guidance for technical qualifications for such members. The measure also would prohibit limitations on direct communications between such unit members and agency inspectors. Additionally, the legislation would extend existing whistleblower protections for airline employees.

“When it comes to aviation, safety has to be the top priority,” added Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the panel’s ranking member. “This legislation implements new safety reforms that both the [Federal Aviation Administration] and the manufacturers must follow.”

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