Boeing’s 737 Max Legal & Regulatory Woes: A Year Later

One year after the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max, Boeing is still facing legal and regulatory troubles as a result of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and the Lion Air Flight 610 crashes, which killed a total of 346 people. In an interview with Law360, Dallas Managing Partner Ladd Sangerdiscussed why the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program is deficient and requires more oversight.

“At the crux of all of this is the ODA. That’s what allowed this problem to make it into a certified airliner in the first place, and that has also been the problem with why it wasn’t caught and why we’re having ongoing issues,” Sanger toldLaw360.

The ODA outsources certain segments of the agency’s certification process to manufacturers, and if the manufacturer certifies aspects of the aircraft, then that decision has the full support of the FAA. Sanger points out that checks and balances are needed for the program, but due to the lengthy aircraft certification process, it would be impossible for the agency to undertake all the certifications.

“Given the technical expertise and subfields that must objectively evaluate these systems and pass judgment on them, I don’t think the ODA system practically can be eliminated,” Sanger said. “But how do you attempt to put safeguards in place? That’s really the only question that’s before everybody. You have to have better accountability. You have to have a bigger stick, bigger punishment for manufacturers that do what Boeing did.”

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