WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Monday it was issuing draft guidance seeking to protect aviation employees who perform government certification duties from interference by airplane manufacturers and others.

Congress in December 2020 approved legislation boosting FAA oversight of aircraft manufacturers, requiring disclosure of critical safety information and providing new whistleblower protections in the wake of two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people and led to the plane’s 20-month U.S. grounding.

An FAA survey released in August 2020 found some safety employees reported facing “strong” external pressure from industry and raised alarms the agency does not always prioritize air safety.

The draft guidance, which is open for comment “calls for manufacturers to monitor, report and investigate all allegations of interference and to report the results to the FAA. It also establishes a clear path for these employees to speak freely with FAA certification officials at any time.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Mark Potter)