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FAA asks airlines to share more information to boost safety

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requesting more information from airlines in order to bolster safety following backlash from a midair blowout last month that led the agency to ground more than 170 Boeing planes.

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker met with airline CEOs Wednesday and asked the carrier leaders to increase their information-sharing in order to better identify problems.

“As I mentioned in my testimony yesterday, data is crucial to identifying and mitigating significant risks and emerging safety trends, allowing us to move toward a more predictive system,” Whitaker said. “Today we discussed the need for more access to real-time data and better tools to detect and manage risk within our aviation system.”

Representatives from United Airlines and Alaska Airlines — the two airlines that used the Boeing planes — and others, including Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, FedEx, UPS and JetBlue, were present in the meeting.

The gathering took place just over a month after the Jan. 5 incident, when the agency ordered a grounding of nearly 200 Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft to complete inspections after a door panel flew off one of the jets midflight above Oregon, leaving a gaping hole in the plane.

While giving testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday, Whitaker pledged to hold Boeing accountable and to maintain increased oversight of the plane manufacturer.

Air carriers share information because of an industry partnership forged in 1997 addressing maintenance issues through the Commercial Aviation Safety Team.

In January, the FAA proposed an extension of the Safety Management Systems, a set of procedures to address potentially dangerous issues. At the time, plane manufacturing companies such as Boeing and GE Aerospace had already implemented the system.

“Aviation safety is a team sport, and it requires that we constantly reexamine processes and procedures as well as how we use data to detect risks and introduce more transparency in our business practices,” Whitaker said.

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