Jessica Wehrman

Probe faults Boeing over 737 Max details given to FAA before certification
Multinational review follows two crashes that killed 346 people

Boeing did not adequately brief regulators about the flight control system blamed for two crashes of its 737 Max aircraft that killed a total of 346 people, according to a multinational task force that reviewed the plane’s certification process.

In a report released Friday, the Joint Authorities Technical Review, a panel chartered by the Federal Aviation Administration that included aviation regulators from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe and other countries as well as representatives from the FAA and NASA, found that increasingly complex aircraft systems have certification requirements that the FAA has yet to match.

Appropriators seek clarity on aircraft inspector qualifications
Lawmakers asked FAA response to findings that safety inspectors lacked training to certify 737 Max pilots

Top Senate appropriators pressed the Federal Aviation Administration chief to respond after a federal investigator found that safety inspectors lacked sufficient training to certify Boeing 737 Max pilots.

Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Jack Reed, D-R.I., the chairwoman and ranking member of the Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, asked FAA chief Steve Dickson in a letter Tuesday provide more information about the U.S. Office of Special Counsel’s report and the FAA’s response to it.

DOT official denies allegations that Chao helped her family’s company
Oversight committee questioned whether Transportation secretary's TV appearances with family in China were improper

Allegations that Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao used her office to help the shipping company owned by her father and sister are “simply false,” a Transportation Department official told the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday.

Adam Sullivan, the departments’s assistant secretary of governmental affairs, said in a letter to Chairman Elijah E. Cummings that Chao is not involved with the management or operations of her family’s shipping company, Foremost Group, and does not have a financial stake in the company.

How ‘resilience’ became a politically safe word for ‘climate change’
Both parties increasingly agree on investing in infrastructure upgrades to better withstand extreme weather

Climate change remains a deeply divisive term in some corners of Capitol Hill, but lawmakers from both parties are embracing the concept of “resilience” — building infrastructure engineered to better withstand devastating wind and floods associated with a warming planet.

The idea of building infrastructure better equipped to deal with natural disasters is appealing to fiscal conservatives who are loathe to keep spending taxpayer dollars rebuilding federal infrastructure just to see it destroyed again.

FAA misled Congress on inspector training, federal investigator finds
FAA appears to have misled Congress in its responses to questions about employee training and competency, an inspector’s letter said

The FAA appears to have misled Congress in its responses to questions about employee training and competency leading up to grounding of 737 Max jets in March, according to a federal investigator.  

Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner, in a letter Monday to President Donald Trump, said Federal Aviation Administration safety inspectors “lacked proper training and accreditation” to certify pilots, including those flying the Boeing 737 Max, putting air travelers at risk.

Trump-California auto emissions fight appears headed to courts
The fight over who can set vehicle emissions standards in California seems headed for the courts

President Donald Trump’s fight with California over vehicle greenhouse gas emissions appears destined to become a long court battle, with California and at least one other state vowing Wednesday to sue to sustain the state’s nearly 50-year-old authority to set its own standards.

One day after his EPA administrator vowed to revoke in “the very near future” a waiver that allows California to set stricter mileage standards than the federal government, Trump made the announcement via a series of tweets.

Committee launches probe of Chao’s ties to family’s business
Seeks information about media reports that Chao appeared alongside her father in Chinese media interviews

The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Monday said the committee was launching an investigation into whether Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao used her office to help the shipping company owned by her father and sisters.

In a letter to Chao, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Maryland, requested information and documents about media reports that Chao had appeared alongside her father in at least a dozen Chinese media interviews, sometimes behind the official seal of the Department of Transportation, in order to benefit Foremost Group, the family shipping company.

Senate chairman worried ‘Real ID’ will shock air travelers
Airport security set to require enhanced driver’s licenses in one year

A post-9/11 law designed to keep people from using fake IDs to board airplanes is one year away from taking effect, but the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee worries that it’s destined to create “Y2K-type disruption” at the nation’s airports in October 2020.

Even though most states are issuing Real IDs — enhanced driver’s licenses required with the passage of a 2005 law  — Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker said he worries passengers who don’t have them and don’t know they need them will be caught by surprise on Oct. 1, 2020, when airports begin requiring the enhanced identification to pass through security.

White House pushes ban on Chinese-made buses, rail cars
Advocate for ban says state-backed Chinese companies can underbid domestic competition and drive them out of business

The White House wants China to stay out of the U.S. mass transit business, whether it’s bus transit or passenger rail.

In a statement of policy before the House and Senate get together in a conference committee to work out their differences in a wide-ranging Pentagon policy bill, the White House said it supports a Senate provision that would bar federal transit funds from being used to buy transit vehicles manufactured by state-owned or state-controlled enterprises, including those from China.

Moulton drops out of 2020 Democratic presidential race
Massachusetts congressman says he’ll focus on reelection, supporting party’s presidential nominee

Massachusetts Democrat Seth Moulton, who ran on a centrist, pro-military platform that never ignited the Democratic base, on Friday became the fourth Democratic presidential candidate to drop out of the race.

During his brief bid, Moulton, an Iraq veteran and former Marine infantry officer, focused primarily on foreign policy and national security. He defined himself as one of the more moderate candidates in a field that now numbers 21.