Zynda wrote:nachiket wrote:Basically the FAA's safety inspectors are designated Boeing employees who have been vetted and certified by the FAA to act as its own representatives. But they are still being paid by Boeing!! So the people certifying Boeing's aircraft as safe are Boeing's own employees but they can give them an FAA certificate. Huge conflict of interest here but this has gone on for decades and it keeps getting worse.
Per my experience, this mechanism was designed to avoid huge costs incurred during FAA inspection/certification services. AFAIK, the product company is responsible for covering the travel, per diem, lodging & transportation costs of the FAA inspector as long as required apart from the hourly fees charged by the individual/FAA. For many small companies, this leads to huge costs. The above was seen as a compromise. Further, from what I understand, the designee mechanism also can speed up product development pace. The FAA probably wants to or can hire only so much people and with so many companies wanting to certify different products, the wait list for next available FAA personal can be long and thus delaying product development. The designee can help in alleviating the above. Many companies only invite FAA inspectors/certification folks only during final process while using designee folks for checking for compliance during the early & intermediate design process.
In theory, like you mentioned, the loyalty of the Designee rests with FAA while he is paid by the employer. In one of my peecha company, I knew many such designees. Most of them would refuse to sign or put down their name if they were not satisfied with the process/outcome. One of such person (a fav of mine) would say that if his names comes up as the person who was responsible for signing a faulty design/document, then it would become an express ticket to jail. Many of the other employees, particularly, from different departments would see these designees as an annoyance and nuisance even though they acknowledged the spirit of the intent behind such designee.
But it is possible in bigger OEMs like Boeing, which may have the clout to threaten to disrupt a person's career if that individual does not pay heed to organizations bigger picture or whatever, the designee mechanism may not be accomplishing the required intent. Perhaps, the FAA can re-examine on how to involve FAA inspectors/certification folks early on during the design & testing process.
It is somewhat similar in India too.
A majority of the DGCA check pilots are airline employees and they wield huge clout within the airline pilot community.
Many nasty stories to go with such conflicts of interest and most of them are true.