U.S. FAA names new aircraft certification director

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Friday it is naming a new head of its aircraft certification service as the agency works to implement significant reforms Congress ordered in December 2020.

The FAA said effective on May 8 Lirio Liu, who directs the FAA’s International Affairs office, will become the new executive director of its Aircraft Certification Service replacing Earl Lawrence, who is moving to a new role at the FAA.

The move comes days after FAA Administrator Steve Dickson stepped down and Billy Nolen, the FAA’s aviation safety chief, was named acting administrator effective April 1.

There have been a number of other personnel changes recently at the FAA. On Wednesday, the National Business Aviation Administration said it was naming the FAA’s acting aviation safety chief Chris Rocheleau as its new chief operating officer.

Rocheleau had been named acting aviation safety chief on April 1.

Congress approved dramatic reforms to how the FAA certifies new airplanes after two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes in five months killed 346 people and led to the plane’s 20-month-grounding.

Dickson told Congress last year the FAA is delegating fewer responsibilities to Boeing for aircraft certification and the FAA is reviewing a number of issues involving Boeing.

The legislation requires disclosure of critical safety information and providing new whistleblower protections.

Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell said the FAA reform law «was a clear course correction. It said that we needed to have stronger FAA oversight, the people in place to do that job, and to hold manufacturers accountable.»

The FAA has warned Boeing that it may not be able to win certification for the Boeing 737 MAX 10 variant by December.

House Transportation Committee chair Peter DeFazio on Wednesday noted the MAX 10 does «not have an advanced flight crew alerting system» that became an industry standard in 1982 and is on every current Airbus and Boeing model in production except for the 737s.

DeFazio noted the «aircraft certification bill gave the FAA a two-year grace period to certify aircraft without the advanced flight crew alerting system, but that grace period should not be extended.»

Boeing said it continues to work with the FAA «to provide the information they need and remain committed to meeting their expectations regarding 737-10 certification.»

(Reporting by David ShepardsonEditing by Chris Reese, Bernard Orr)

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