US Department of Transportation (DOT) secretary Elaine Chao on Aug. 22 announced the appointment of 22 members to an expert committee that will provide guidance on issues related to aviation safety and certification of new aircraft.

The Safety Oversight and Certification Advisory Committee (SOCAC) was created by the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 to advise on safety issues, including aircraft and flight standards certification processes, safety management systems, risk-based oversight efforts and the delegation of oversight responsibilities to manufacturers. 

The committee will be chaired by former Alaska Airlines chairman and CEO William Ayer. It will include Boeing VP-safety, security and compliance Beth Pasztor, as well as officials from Delta Air Lines, GE Aviation, Gulfstream Aerospace, Pratt &Whitney and United Airlines. It will also include numerous representatives from trade associations and unions, such as the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) and the AFL-CIO.

The SOCAC comprises 20 voting members representing the aviation industry and two nonvoting FAA members, in addition to the FAA administrator, who is a voting member. Members are appointed to serve terms of two years. 

The panel’s FAA members are Bob Busto, manager of the Central Manufacturing Inspection Office Branch within the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service, and Robert Duffer, senior technical liaison at the Flight Standards Service within the Office of Safety Standards. 

On March 25, two weeks after the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, Chao announced that a special committee to review the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX would be “formed within the structure” of the SOCAC. That review was to be chaired on an interim basis by retired Air Force general Darren McDew and former ALPA president Lee Moak, pending the appointments of other members.

The MAX certification is also being examined by federal prosecutors, committees in both chambers of Congress, the DOT’s inspector general and the National Transportation Safety Board. 

Ben Goldstein,