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Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 17, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRAVES of Louisiana. Mr. Speaker, I really can't dispute many of the previous speakers' comments. The bottom line is that the aviation industry, the aviation mode of transportation is the safest mode of transportation. It is the safest way to travel. And the United States has the gold standard in regard to aviation safety.

However, we are all aware of two very tragic accidents that resulted in 346 lives that were lost, 346. Just because we have the best, we have the safest, does not mean that we should ever stop striving for better, we should ever stop striving for perfection.

Mr. Speaker, we had five hearings on this legislation. There were numerous expert panels that were put together to review this, to extract every single lesson learned.

I thank the acting administrator at the time, Dan Elwell--and I want to congratulate him on his retirement--for his steady hand in ensuring that, as we move forward, we base our decisions on facts. I thank him for some of the changes within the FAA to ensure that we apply lessons learned.

Mr. Speaker, as previous speakers noted, this legislation is the result of all of these nonpartisan, independent expert reviews. We took the lessons learned and we adapted it into legislation to make sure that we can, as I said, continue to strive for perfection; to continue to focus on, as my friend Mr. Larsen noted, the families; to keep a face on this; to ensure that we never subject future families to the same losses that we had in this case. And that is just what we did.

I thank Michael Stumo, one of the leaders of the families who called us often and reminded us what it was that we were doing. We were focusing on safety because this is about people, about real lives.

Mr. Speaker, this bill has a number of improvements, as I noted, including ensuring that safety management systems are applied by manufacturers and better controls over project management. The bill integrates project review within the FAA to make sure that different entities within the FAA are aware of what the others are doing.

The bill ensures that there is disclosure of safety critical information in systems, including close inspection and review of new or novel technologies that are introduced into the design to ensure that we fully understand the impact of those. It ensures that there is conformance with the FAA design type; meaning that you can't come in and simply amend the design type if you are making significant changes to the aircraft or if the aircraft design evolves over time to where if initially it couldn't simply be an amended design.

Mr. Speaker, it also includes something that is very important. It integrates human factors, ensuring that we understand how humans, how pilots and others will behave in the instance of some type of safety issue on aircraft.

Mr. Speaker, when an aircraft has a problem, you can't simply pull it over to the side of the road and check it out. We have to make sure that this continues to be the safest mode of transportation. We have to continue to ensure that the United States truly has a gold standard.

I thank Chairman DeFazio and my friend, Chairman Larsen, as well as full committee Ranking Member Graves of Missouri, for the work on this bill because this bill didn't start out as something that was bipartisan that everybody was on board with, but it did evolve to this point. Candidly, there are few perfections in here that I would like to see, but this is a really good bill, and it does simply take the recommendations, the findings of the expert reports and it does turn this into legislation.

I thank all my friends for working together on this. I thank Holly and Hunter, whose baby Theo didn't comply with our schedule in this legislation, for all of their hard work here.