Washington D.C. – Today, the Eno Center for Transportation released Safer, Faster, Cheaper: Aviation Certification for the 21st Century. The report, while acknowledging the positive changes that have been made in the last few years, calls for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue implementing changes in its aviation certification procedures in order to make certification more nimble and less prone to costly delays. Without strong and agile certification procedures that can both maintain and improve safety, the continuity of the American aviation industry as a global leader is at risk.

Changes are needed because the aviation industry is rapidly changing and growing, and the FAA is not equipped to respond to these challenges. The agency must cope with new technologies while maintaining high standards for safety, at a time where the availability of government resources is uncertain and demand from the aviation industry is high.

“The FAA has been moving towards many of the same things that we suggest in our report,” said Robert Puentes, President and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation. “But we need to make sure that these efforts continue and that the agency does not lose track of its ultimate goals, as these improvements are crucial to the future of our aviation industry.”

The report focus on three different areas of aviation certifications:

  • Aviation products, such as aircraft and engines;
  • Air traffic control and air traffic controllers, and;
  • Repair stations, the places where aircraft are maintained.

It is vital that the FAA follow national and international best practices for establishing and adhering to risk-informed certification, shifting its paradigm from the current prescriptive certification system. Certain certification functions should be delegated to the manufacturers. This will allow the agency to focus its limited resources on the areas that need the most attention from a safety perspective. A body of government officials, labor representatives, industry employees, and independent experts should be established to collaboratively advise the agency on issues of safety and compliance, as well as application and interpretations of regulations. This will help improve consistency in the application and interpretation of regulations, Similarly, certification and surveillance of repair stations should be streamlined to ease the burden on industry and government.

“When people hear ‘safer, faster, cheaper’ they usually assume we can only get two of the three. However, it is our strong belief that it’s possible to get all three. It is possible to have a safer system, that certifies products cheaper and faster” said Rui Neiva, the report’s co-author.

The Eno Center for Transportation is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that promotes policy innovation and leads professional development in the transportation industry. Eno’s Aviation Working Group is an advisory group on all matters related to aviation policy and practice. It provides Eno with insights, knowledge, feedback, and guidance on how to continue to lead the world in aviation safety, modernization, and innovation.

To learn more and download the full report, click here.


Alexander Laska