Dalila Omerovic, Staff Writer
As of last month, Boeing 737 planes still remain grounded. Demand for the plane that was responsible for two crashes in the last five months have significantly slowed. 122 Boeing 737 planes were ordered at this time last year, compared to 32 orders as of March, according to the The New York Times.
Investigations have concluded that the Ethiopian Airlines crash last month, and Lion Air crash last year were a result of a plane error, rather than of the pilots. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg apologized for the recent accidents which combined resulted in the loss of over 300 lives. Since the apology has been issued, many lawsuits are coming forward from the families of the victims involved in the crash according to Business Insider. The lawsuits are seeking for compensation rights for the involved victims.
The Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing’s relationship is now under scrutiny by many government officials. The Department of Transportation under Secretary Elaine Chao is now investigating how the Federal Aviation Agency allowed the Boeing 737 Max aircrafts to gain certification in the first place. Rep. Steve Cohen from Tennessee believes government has been allowing corporate interests to prevail over public interests in areas of safety for years according to CBS. Boeing engineers and manufacturers have a significant impact over safety approvals on aircrafts, as confirmed in 2011 by the inspector general of the DOT. The same report also found employees with inadequate qualifications or experience can be appointed to the safety approval process according to a report by CNN. The reliance on these ‘private experts’ allows Boeing to select their own employees to perform inspections and give approval on planes.
The FAA’s delegation of these important duties to private experts has created an excessively close bond with Boeing. Employees of Boeing have more to gain in approving planes and deeming them as safe, as opposed to agents of an independent regulatory body. The FAA first began delegating these duties when they realized they did not have enough staff to oversee the aviation manufacturer. In this case, more funding should have been diverted to the agency in order for them to properly function and run operations.
FAA agents should be the primary decision-makers in ensuring Boeing aircrafts are meeting safety standards, as opposed to outsourcing these operations to private employees and contractors. The relationship between Boeing and the FAA should remain a close one simply because the two institutions must work together to promote and ensure public safety, but oversight on safety procedures should remain independent. Many believe the participation of Boeing employees in safety decisions lead to the wrongful approval of the planes involved in the deadly crashes. The chairman of the House Transportation Committee is now investigating just how much influence Boeing employees had in the approval process that ultimately lead to the loss of nearly 350 lives.