The problem with regulatory agencies like the FAA is that they simply don't have the necessary talent to properly evaluate aircraft. Who would know better than the people that actually built it? Should the government have evaluated the Wright Flyer before it was allowed in the air? If so, how?
No, the problem with regulatory agencies like the FAA is that if you do not finance them properly (because all you can think of is how can I transfer another penny from society to the owners of capital), they will not have the talent pool to perform their functions properly. Too much government or too much regulation has become the reigning ideological flavor of the day for more than 20 years now. Financial markets players tell everyone they do not need regulation, the govt regulators are slow, clumsy etc. etc. Then they leave a financial crisis on everyone's door and whoop-dee-doo, a good chunk of wealth finds its way to the owners of capital while average people lose jobs and homes. Ultra rich taxpayers always lobby for cutting the funding of regulatory agencies, including the tax agencies, and guess what, a couple of decades later, no ultra rich corporation pays any real tax, which means government has even less money to fulfill its regulatory functions. You starve regulatory agencies so you can have people fill their lungs with cigarette smoke as long as possible or blood streams with sugar as long as possible while the producers of their poison fill their pockets. This is all in the name of "efficient" government, which is a euphemism for no one other than owners of capital to have even the slightest say in how society is organized (and certainly not labor or any kind of other organized force in society). It is naked capitalism: only money can and will talk and everything else will shut up and live with the crumbs thrown their way at the mercy of the owners of capital. Look around you, it is not that difficult to see. And please do not read this as a statement in favor of organized labor, the church, the intelligentsia, some sort of bureaucracy or some other group organizing society as they see fit. They each have their problems as anyone who has read a bit of history would know. The problem is blindly rooting for one of these (and generally going with the ideological flavor of the day) and not seeing the price society pays when any of these forces are not moderated and have full control.
I was on an eight-hour flight on a 787 yesterday. From an average passenger perspective the plane is simply beautiful and amazing. I keep reading here that the program had problems and I am sure it did, but no sane person car argue with the end product. It is silly to throw the company that produced this into the thrash bin just because it made a big mistake in another product. But it is equally silly to try to ignore that mistake or to blame pilots or regulatory agencies for it. Boeing would actually benefit from a very strong and robust FAA and yes, it would have a cost. If we can all get our heads out of our parts where the sun don't shine and stop this craze about squeezing every penny out every iota of economic activity and human life to "maximize profits," we would have good regulatory agencies performing their functions, not perfect, not right 100% of the time, but maybe very very good regulatory agencies (as some countries still fight to keep).
I do not know if you have ever hear of Thalidomide, I will paste a couple of paragraphs from the Wikipedia article on it, but please feel free to read more and see how regulatory agencies functioned in a different era ('50s and '60s):
In the US, representatives from Chemie Grünenthal approached Smith, Kline & French (SKF), now GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), with a request to market and distribute the drug in North America. A memorandum rediscovered in 2010 in the archives of the FDA shows that, as part of its in-licensing approach, Smith, Kline and French conducted animal tests and ran a clinical trial of the drug in the US involving 875 people, including pregnant women, in 1956–57. In 1956, researchers at SKF involved in clinical trials noted that even when used in very high doses, thalidomide could not induce sleep in mice. And when administered at doses 50 to 650 times larger than that claimed by Chemie Grünenthal to be "sleep inducing", the researchers could still not achieve the hypnotic effect in animals that it had on humans. After completion of the trial, and based on reasons kept hidden for decades, SKF declined to commercialize the drug. Later, Chemie Grünenthal, in 1958, reached an agreement with William S Merrell Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, (later Richardson-Merrell, now part of Sanofi), to market and distribute thalidomide throughout the US
The US FDA refused to approve thalidomide for marketing and distribution. However, the drug was distributed in large quantities for testing purposes, after the American distributor and manufacturer Richardson-Merrell had applied for its approval in September 1960. The official in charge of the FDA review, Frances Oldham Kelsey, did not rely on information from the company, which did not include any test results. Richardson-Merrell was called on to perform tests and report the results. The company demanded approval six times, and was refused each time. Nevertheless, a total of 17 children with thalidomide-induced malformations were born in the US. Oldham Kelsey was given a Presidential award for distinguished service from the federal government for not allowing thalidomide to be approved for sale in the US.
And the full article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalidomide
Again, one example does not prove a case, but I am certain there were tens and hundreds more like it and Thalidomide became so well-known because of its horrible effects on fetuses while their mothers were taking the drug for morning sickness in other countries. I put in bold and underlined "[t]he company demanded approval six times and was refused each time." Think about that and ask yourself whether what the FAA is now doing now, belatedly, could be saving lives and, if it is taking too long or if it does not have the resources to do it, whose decisions those were.
And I will not go into the Wright Flyer question as its many logical fallacies do not require a full listing, but I will mention one: The Wright Flyer carried Wilbur and Orville and even them only one at a time. Trust me, if the brothers were proposing to risk some 170 lives repeatedly, hundreds of times a day, everyone in their right minds would want the government to evaluate the Wright Flyer.