In a hard-hitting story this weekend, the New York Times reported that F.A.A. delegation of decision authority to Boeing resulted in the 737 MAX “not meeting” agency guidelines “for protecting flight controls.”  Should the international regulators undertaking an independent review of the MAX certification determine that a deficiency exists, the 737 MAX could be grounded for a substantial additional period while that issue is addressed.

After a change in regulatory processes in 2009, the F.A.A. delegated increased authority for approval of safety assessments to Boeing.   Some of those assessments, such as for MCAS and, apparently, protection of flight controls, would likely not have been approved had F.A.A. engineers been in charge of the decision process.  A flaw in the regulatory oversight process has led to the situation today, with an unsafe aircraft requiring retrofits and modifications.

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