The Federal Aviation Administration is struggling to be effective because of a vacuum in leadership, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Schumer also said on Sunday that the agency is hobbled by two executive orders signed by President Donald Trump that cut regulations at agencies including the FAA.
The FAA is under increased scrutiny in recent months after two Boeing 737 Max jets were involved in fatal crashes, leading to the aircraft being grounded.
“Right now, the FAA is investigating a private company and has grounded planes, but looking in the mirror is not a bad idea, either,” Schumer said in a statement. “If we are going to get to the bottom of what, if anything, has gone wrong with the agency approval process, product certification or the internal checks and balances we depend on to ensure safety in the skies, we have to also look at how the FAA’s own newly-installed hurdles are being cleared.”
The FAA ordered the temporary grounding of the Boeing 737 Max planes on March 13, while it investigates the March 10 crash of Flight 302, an Ethiopian Airlines jet, which resulted in the death of all 157 people on board.
In October, 189 people were killed when a Lion Air plane, that was also a 737 Max jet, crashed in Indonesia.
“With two executive orders on the books as we speak, no formal FAA Administrator installed, and more regulatory unraveling potentially in the pipeline, the feds need to answer some serious questions, and now,” Schumer said.
Last week, Trump said he will nominate Stephen M. Dickson, a former senior vice president of flight operations for Delta Air Lines and a pilot, to be the new FAA Administrator.
Schumer pointed to Executive Orders 13771, signed in 2017, which requires federal agencies to repeal at least two regulations for every new one proposed, as troubling. Executive Order 13777, also approved in 2017, calls on agencies to review regulations with an eye to repeal, replace or modify them.
“Say, for a moment, it is found that the recent issues with Boeing spell out, very clearly, that a new regulation is needed in the skies?” said Schumer. “What two aviation regulations would potentially be eliminated? The bottom-line is that you can’t slowly clip the wings of the FAA and still expect safety to fly.”
When asked about Schumer’s statement, the FAA directed questions to the White House, which did not respond to a request for comment.