Changes since the FAA review of
Swissair Flight 111
The FAA says it has acted to ensure that
existing and future jets with in-flight entertainment systems do not
have the same design features as those on Flight 111. The FAA
- Issued more than 50 "airworthiness directives" ordering
airlines to inspect wiring, or take steps to correct wiring
problems, on MD-11 jets.
- Rewritten its guidelines for supplemental type certificates (STC's)
and designated alteration stations (DAS) and held meetings to educate
its designees (DER's).
Among other things, the new guidelines require
increased FAA oversight and more interaction between the agency and
the designated alteration station. The FAA must be notified if the
scope of a project changes, and a foreign government must be
notified and invited to participate before any work begins on a
foreign-registered aircraft. Despite these and other changes, some
designees say the FAA still lacks the technical expertise and the
manpower to ensure that changes critical to the safety of an
aircraft are done properly.
The designee system is still "too loose," says
Nick Lacey, a former senior FAA official who left the agency last
year. "There's a lot of room for improvement."
He faults the system for allowing companies to
shop around for designees that suit them and the FAA's shortage of
expertise, manpower and resources to oversee the paperwork that
Despite the FAA's efforts to improve procedures
and guidelines, they're still not understandable — even to him,
"If reasonably intelligent people come to
different conclusions about FAA advisories, that's not the way the
aviation system should be designed," he says.
The General Accounting Office, the
investigative arm of Congress, also says it has concerns about the
designee program, and it plans to look into whether the FAA provides
Boeing's Answer (1)
Boeing's Answer (2)