Pilot and author James Fallows points out this Seattle Times article as a good explanation of how the Boeing-led safety process for the 737 MAX 8 airplane may have contributed to their recent accidents:
The FAA, citing lack of funding and resources, has over the years delegated increasing authority to Boeing to take on more of the work of certifying the safety of its own airplanes.
Early on in certification of the 737 MAX, the FAA safety engineering team divided up the technical assessments that would be delegated to Boeing versus those they considered more critical and would be retained within the FAA.
But several FAA technical experts said in interviews that as certification proceeded, managers prodded them to speed the process. Development of the MAX was lagging nine months behind the rival Airbus A320neo. Time was of the essence for Boeing.
A former FAA safety engineer who was directly involved in certifying the MAX said that halfway through the certification process, “we were asked by management to re-evaluate what would be delegated. Management thought we had retained too much at the FAA.”
“There was constant pressure to re-evaluate our initial decisions,” the former engineer said. “And even after we had reassessed it … there was continued discussion by management about delegating even more items down to the Boeing Company.”
Wow, that sounds familiar. And this is why we need competent, well-funded regulators for safety-critical industries.
The Ethiopian government says they'll release the preliminary accident report in 30 days.