As the Boeing 787 problems evolve from annoying, in-service teething issues into a fire, a full program review by the Federal Aviation Administration, a second battery issue and now a grounding, the program review raises almost as many questions as it hopes to solve.
The FAA has never been adequately staffed, nor staffed with enough experts, to conduct program development and certifications without relying on the manufacturers and supply chains to provide analysis and expertise.
Since the creation of the FAA, this system has worked pretty well. Although some may argue that the FAA and the industry are too cozy—and sometimes there certainly appears to be justification in this criticism—it’s in nobody’s interest to screw up. The airplane makers and their stakeholders have to make safe airplanes. The FAA—the regulators—have to assure that the airplanes are safe. The airlines, who carry the passengers, clearly need safe airplanes.