Four years ago, the NTSB questioned whether manufactures like Boeing should be allowed to self-certify that their aircraft designs meet FAA requirements. The NTSB suggested that “self-certification” may have contributed to the battery fires that were being experienced on Boeing’s 787s. After all, it’s the FAA’s job to make an independent determination that an aircraft design is safe. It makes little sense to pass that job to the manufacturer, who is hardly independent.
The FAA’s response was to delegate even more authority to manufacturers. In fact, the GAO reports that 90% of all aircraft certification work is now outsourced to the manufacturers themselves.
How is that working out? Not surprisingly, not so well. According to documents obtained by the Seattle Times, through 2015, Boeing was fined $13 million to settle FAA proceedings arising from falsification of certification and repair work. The Seattle Times noted that one Boeing mechanic told FAA investigators that he had been entering false data into aircraft inspection records for at least seven years.