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Who Certifies The Certifiers?  
User currently offlinetraindoc From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 412 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 3479 times:

New aircraft such as the A380, the B787, and the A350 are extremely complex and full of advanced technology. The B787 battery issues show the limitations that the certifying agencies have. So where are the FAA, the JAA, and the BEA going to get the expertise to actually approve and oversee these aircraft?

4 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17649 posts, RR: 65
Reply 1, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3319 times:

In response to the question in the title, almost every aviation authority in the world is a member of ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization. ICAO comes up with certification standards in various areas. National and supranational aviation authorities like FAA and EASA (which is superseding the JAA) expand on these and sometimes file differences.

Certification authorities hire the right people, I suppose. Issues like the 787 batteries may be new, but in a greater context there have always been issues. A prime example is metal fatigue on the Comet.

"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offline7BOEING7 From United States of America, joined Oct 2012, 2300 posts, RR: 14
Reply 2, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 3310 times:

Quoting traindoc (Thread starter):
So where are the FAA, the JAA, and the BEA going to get the expertise to actually approve and oversee these aircraft?

They're not and never will because they don't have the budget to do that -- it would multiply their personnel requirements several times. If they had enough people to handle a major program they would find themselves laying off in between programs -- something you never see governments do so you will pay for it. The programs the FAA, JAA, BEA and others have used for years (DER, etc.) are efficient and for the most part work very well.

[Edited 2013-07-01 17:42:22]

[Edited 2013-07-01 17:42:52]

User currently offlinezeke From Hong Kong, joined Dec 2006, 10808 posts, RR: 76
Reply 3, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 3251 times:

Quoting traindoc (Thread starter):
New aircraft such as the A380, the B787, and the A350 are extremely complex and full of advanced technology.

The keyword here is advanced

Quoting traindoc (Thread starter):
The B787 battery issues show the limitations that the certifying agencies have.

It is really more of a limitation of the regulations themselves, the "advanced" nature of the technology going into new aircraft is normally years ahead of the regulations to certify them. So in a lot of cases these "advanced" technologies do not have a standard to be regulated against, so they are issued an equivalent safety standard based upon engineering justification. Sometimes this justification is good, sometimes more work needs to be done. In any case, it often takes years for the regulations to catch up with what is in service.

We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking – Santosh Kalwar
User currently offlineoly720man From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 7148 posts, RR: 11
Reply 4, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3156 times:

Certifiers have to adhere to, and impose, a set of rules and regulations. Are you really asking who decides what those rules and regulations actually are? Where does the buck finally stop?

Inevitably a committee using combined experience and knowledge since the first plane flew to decide what planes and their systems should be able to do and withstand.

As said, with new technologies such as LiPo batteries and carbon composites, experience comes with use and if manufacturers had to wait 10 or 15 years to allow time for all possible bugs and design glitches to be ironed out we probably wouldn't have such advanced aircraft flying today. It could be argued that manufacturers are trying too much too soon to get better aircraft to market ahead of the competition, but aircraft design is still conservative, despite the advances in technology.

It's in nobody's interest to put a plane in the air with inherent flaws, and, perhaps with the 787, risks were taken with batteries that weren't wholly understood, but the containment systems did what they were meant to. Live and learn.

And all the flight tests in the world can't reproduce the daily grind of actual service so you're never going to find all the niggles in a new design until it's flown for real for a while.

wheat and dairy can screw up your brain
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