“We don’t have any changes planned,” Southwest said in a statement. “We have full confidence in the aircraft,” American said.
The growing pressure left Boeing in an increasingly unfamiliar position. The company, a major military contractor, has close ties with the American government, and the F.A.A. in particular.
[Three generations of a Canadian family died in the Ethiopian plane crash.]
Boeing is a major lobbying force in the nation’s capital. Its top government relations official is a veteran of the Clinton White House, and last year, the company employed more than a dozen lobbying firms to advocate for its interests and spent $15 million in total on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The company, through its political action committee, funnels millions of dollars into the campaign accounts of lawmakers from both political parties. A list of a year’s worth of political spending on Boeing’s website stretches on for 14 pages, listing campaign contributions to lawmakers ranging from a city councilman in South Carolina to Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who is now the House speaker.
“Boeing is one of the 800-pound gorillas around here,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who has called for the Max 8 to be grounded. As an example of Boeing’s reach in the highest levels of government, Mr. Blumenthal noted that the acting defense secretary, Patrick M. Shanahan, is a former Boeing executive.
[While some passengers balked, it was business as usual in the United States and Canada.]
For decades, the F.A.A. has used a network of outside experts, known as F.A.A. designees, to certify that aircraft meet safety standards. In 2005, the regulator shifted its approach for how it delegated authority outside the agency, creating a new program through which aircraft manufacturers like Boeing could choose their own employees to be the designees and help certify their planes.