Seattle Times aerospace reporter

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday extended the authority of Boeing Commercial Airplanes to self-certify its aircraft and aircraft technologies. Under the agency’s new safety oversight model, Boeing manufacturing and engineering employees will perform delegated tasks for the FAA, including signing certificates approving new designs.

The new system extends further an already established in-house inspection system at the airplane maker, whereby much of Boeing’s inspection work is delegated to more than 400 company in-house inspectors. Though appointed by and accountable to the FAA, for the past decade those inspectors have reported their findings largely through an internal Boeing organization.

The new system increases the authority of the in-house inspectors directly managed by Boeing, allowing them to review new designs, oversee testing to ensure the products meet all applicable standards, and sign off on certification.

The FAA is setting up a new Boeing Aviation Safety Oversight Office that will monitor Boeing’s internal inspection organization through audits and review of written reports submitted by Boeing. That unit will initially have just eight staff, including two engineers, growing to nearly 30 staff as the new system is phased in.

Following completion of training and readiness reviews, Boeing will officially shift to the new certification system, known as Organization Designation Authorization, on Aug. 31. 

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or