politics

The FAA Approved the Boeing 737 Max to Fly Again After Extensive Investigations. Here's Why Boeing's Culture Went Unchecked

Mike Kane | Bloomberg | Getty Images
  • After 20 months of grounding following two crashes that killed 346 people, the FAA is allowing the jet to fly again.
  • Self-regulation was one of the biggest controversies that prolonged the crisis.

After two deadly crashes that took 346 lives and a worldwide grounding that lasted almost two years, the Federal Aviation Administration and regulators across the world are giving the Boeing 737 Max jets the green light to fly again.

In the U.S., Boeing has been investigated by both chambers of Congress and well as the Justice Department and the SEC into software updates, certification, pilot training and more.

One of the most controversial topics in those investigations is the idea of self-regulation and certification.

Boeing employees were able to certify some aspects of the Boeing 737 Max plane, but that sort of self-regulation is not uncommon in much of the federal government, especially when it comes to agencies that regulate a single industry, like the FAA and its Organization Designation Authorization.

"Congress realized that you couldn't grow an FAA to the size with monetary resources and manpower resources necessary to put people in every manufacturing facility," said former NTSB senior investigator Greg Feith. "So they allowed these designated representatives based on qualifications and experience to represent the FAA, the administrator inside the organization they oversee."

He added: "The problem with the program over the years, of course, is that you develop a relationship, just like the FAA develops a relationship with the air carriers. You can't just go in there and long arm of the law and beat them. You try to work with them."

After grueling hearings on Capitol Hill, the day before the final ruling from the FAA, the House unanimously passed a bill by voice vote that reforms the plane certification process.

The bill, among other things, requires an expert panel to evaluate safety culture and recommend improvements and mandates aircraft manufacturers to adopt safety management systems and to complete system safety assessments for significant design changes. The bill awaits a vote in the Senate.

Some consumers are still concerned that the extensive recertification process and changes to software and company culture are not enough. Airlines are allowing free flight changes to passengers worried about the Boeing 737 Max, and the company is fighting to repair its reputation.

Watch the video to learn more about the grounding and the ungrounding of the Boeing 737 Max jets.

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