The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expanding the use of independent safety expert groups for certifying aircraft.

With this move, FAA intends to continue the reformation of its certification processes for commercial aircraft, smaller aircraft and drones.

FAA is expanding the use of Technical Advisory Boards (TAB), which will enable the government agency to maintain a detailed and consistent approach for all projects on aircraft certification.

In a statement, the FAA said: “The new TAB approach builds on recent aircraft certification reforms.

“These include delegating fewer responsibilities to manufacturers and demanding more transparency from them; hiring additional personnel as we increase our research on how over-reliance on automation potentially affects basic piloting skills and expanding our evaluation of manufacturers’ assumptions about human factors that equipment manufacturers make when performing system safety assessments, including pilot response times.”

TAB members will examine the proposed design or design change in the course of a review and study how it will adhere to the FAA’s certification rules. 

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Based on the level of review, TAB members will also be tasked with flagging new technologies and designs that could be ‘catastrophic’ in the event of a failure.

In addition, they will have to determine if similar systems were successful on other aircraft or led to problems, and ensure if FAA project specialists reviewed all key issues.

Their responsibilities will also include looking into whether proper FAA offices were involved during certification and performing secondary design reviews and procedure and training assessments.

FAA intends to establish TAB early in the certification process and create various levels of TAB based on the project scope.

The agency created TAB while recertifying the Boeing 737 MAX. Currently, the FAA is also using it for Boeing 777X certification review.

Meanwhile, last month, the FAA and other industry stakeholders pledged to end lead usage in aviation fuel for piston-engine aircraft by the end of this decade.