Employees at Boeing and other manufacturers will be given new protections against company interference as federal regulators continue to tighten oversight of aircraft development following a pair of crashes of 737 MAX jets.

The latest rules apply to engineers who are deputized by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to review the safety of aircraft designs. Any concerns they raise about possible interference must be investigated and reported to the agency under an order finalized on Wednesday. Those employees will also be able to communicate directly with FAA at any time.


The move is the latest step by the FAA to rein in manufacturers after the crashes in 2018 and 2019 put a spotlight on the longstanding practice of allowing plane makers to use their own employees to act on behalf of the government for some jet-development oversight. Some workers in what is known as Boeing’s Organization Designation Authorization have said that they receive undue pressure, though the company says it’s improving.

The FAA is also establishing a panel to review safety practices at companies with ODA programs, the agency said. The panel, required by Congress, will be made up of experts from NASA, FAA, labor unions, independent engineering experts and others. 

“Boeing fully supports efforts to enhance transparency and independence in the ODA program,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We have and will continue to work with the FAA to ensure our ODA unit members can perform their vital roles without interference through open communication and a supportive environment.”