I'm not sure why the FAA does not have similar authority. So many of the base structure and regulations are actually the same between the FAA and NRC (its like they copy each other).
Because the FAA has two objectives: the first is safety and the second is promoting US commercial aviation.
The NRC is only focused on safety. If they were equally focused on promoting the construction of US nuclear powerplants worldwide, they might not be so stringent on how those plants are operated.
suggests FAA sees itself somewhat differently:
We're responsible for the safety of civil aviation.
The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 created the agency under the name Federal Aviation Agency. We adopted our present name in 1967 when we became a part of the Department of Transportation. Our major roles include:
- Regulating civil aviation to promote safety
- Encouraging and developing civil aeronautics, including new aviation technology
- Developing and operating a system of air traffic control and navigation for both civil and military aircraft
- Researching and developing the National Airspace System and civil aeronautics
- Developing and carrying out programs to control aircraft noise and other environmental effects of civil aviation
- Regulating U.S. commercial space transportation
Safety first. Encouraging and developing rather than promoting. Civil aeronautics rather than commercial. I think there actually was legislation removing the "promoting commercial aviation" language from their mission statement, but it's been gone for a while now.
Whether they live up to their mission statement is a different issue.
I ran into a ST article on the "Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act" passed after the MCAS tragedy.
Some quotes of interest on what it is *supposed* to do:
The bill provides that the Boeing engineers assigned to work on behalf of the FAA must be approved or removed not by the company, as is the case now, but by the federal agency. And each will have a direct line of communication with an FAA safety inspector acting as an adviser and overseer of the work.
The bill also provides that an individual supervisor at Boeing or another manufacturer who exerts undue pressure on staff doing the certification work, or who fails to disclose safety critical information to the FAA, can be held personally liable and subject to heavy civil penalties.
In response to internal FAA surveys that showed employees feared reprisal for raising safety issues, the bill provides anonymous reporting channels and whistleblower protections for front-line FAA engineers who wish to flag safety concerns.
Ref: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/b ... x-crashes/
It seems the current situation might be evidence of two very different things, (1) that the designated representatives feel empowered to take a stand contrary to Boeing management's wishes, yet (2) Boeing itself still is looking for shortcuts and forces the designated representatives into uncomfortable positions. The fish rots from the head.
As for the legislation, the article goes on to say:
An FAA safety engineer, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect his job, welcomed the provisions in the bill as “a good step forward.”
“The tools are here to address a lot of what’s gone wrong,” he said.
However, he cautioned that in practice much will depend upon the FAA administrator shifting the agency’s culture away from a focus on giving industry what it wants, and robustly implementing these new safety protocols.
So, a lot of this falls into Steve Dickinson's lap.
I think we see evidence that FAA is more empowered than before, but also Boeing still pushes to get shortcuts past the FAA. We saw this with both 777X and this current 787 situation. I was hoping the later would change and they would just man up and do the work, but so far I don't see evidence of that. It seems they feel if they complain enough and exert enough pressure they can save money, and that's what seems to matter the most to them.