By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will grant a shorter regulatory compliance program extension to Boeing than planemaker sought, so it can ensure the company implements “required improvements,” the agency said on Tuesday.
The FAA opted to renew Boeing’s Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program for three years rather than the five years Boeing had asked for.
Boeing did not immediately comment.
The FAA, which delegates some tasks to Boeing under a long-standing program, said Tuesday that “during the three-year period, the FAA will verify that Boeing completes required improvements” to the program including ensuring employees can “act without interference by company officials.”
In December, a U.S. Senate report said the FAA must do a better job overseeing Boeing and the certification of new airplanes, as well as review allegations raised by whistleblowers.
Congress passed sweeping reforms in December 2020 to how the FAA certifies new airplanes after two fatal 737 MAX crashes killed 346 people and led to the plane’s 20-month grounding.
“FAA’s oversight of the certification process has eroded,” the report found, saying the agency “over time, increasingly delegated away its authority” to Boeing and others.
Then FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told Congress late last year the agency was delegating fewer tasks to Boeing.
The FAA said Tuesday the shorter renewal was in part “due to a number of items that must be tracked and completed during that timeframe.” The FAA letter said it expects “the next three years should provide ample time for these improvement activities to be completed.”
The FAA “will also track the timely implementation of corrective actions, updates to the Boeing ODA Procedures Manual, self-audits and the effective implementation of the Boeing Safety Management System.”
The FAA continues to inspect all Boeing 737 MAXs to determine airworthiness and will also inspect all 787 Dreamliners once Boeing addresses quality issues and deliveries resume.
In November, the acting head of the FAA office that oversees Boeing told the company that some appointees performing work for FAA did not have required expertise and were not meeting FAA expectations.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and Aurora Ellis)