I'm not an aviation or private international lawyer, but

  1. is it true that countries unbound by US law, i.e. most if not all countries outside the US, still comply with the FAA's directives?

  2. If so, is the cause merely political and/or public outcry and pressure? Doubtless non-Americans would be worried if their nation state's airline still flew airliners, Boeing or not, against the FAA's directives.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The FAA has a huge budget and a lot of oversight, why would you not take advantage of that? $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jun 22 '20 at 4:08
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer Why would a non-US company comply with the FDA before their own country's aviation regulator decides? $\endgroup$
    – NNOX Apps
    Jun 22 '20 at 4:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There are two main reason here: 1) FAA rules actually makes sense so unless they can and want to make better rules, it's very cost effective to just borrow and enforce them, 2) FAA certification is widely endorsed internationally, and the airplane may fly or be sold internationally anyway, so better get it certified by FAA sooner rather than later. $\endgroup$ Jun 22 '20 at 5:46

International air travel requires compatible laws at both ends, otherwise a plane might be grounded when it arrived. A web of international agreements therefore exists to implement globally the directives of the major national certificating authorities such as the American FAA and European EASA.

Some planes made in Russia and China are not able to fly internationally to any significant extent because they do not meet FAA or EASA standards. Others have been certified by these authorities and do frequent Western airports.

The agreements are voluntary. For example the Boeing 737 MAX scandal led many national authorities to reject the FAA's judgement to let it keep flying immediately after the second crash, and to make their own judgements when the FAA re-certifies it, while the EASA has been negotiating hard to ensure that the fixes are also compliant with EU standards.


In the case of well-funded, highly-respected agencies such as the FAA and EASA, it makes a lot of sense for other agencies to follow their lead especially when it comes to acting on the side of caution.

Any aircraft the FAA or EASA revokes certification for, or demands action for, is at immediate risk of being grounded by other regulatory agencies as these decisions cascade from one agency to another.

It's worth it to put the cost of agencies such as the EASA or FAA into perspective. For the FAA:

For FY 2020, a total funding level of US$17.1 billion will enable the FAA to achieve its mission while making critical investments that support innovation, protect aviation safety, and make investments in our nation’s infrastructure.

By contrast, the government of Namibia (a country with a rather smaller population - well under 3 million people - than the USA's) spent a total of USD 2.3 billion in 2019, while Namibia's GDP was USD 15 billion.

Not only would Namibia gain absolutely no advantage in doing anything other than following the lead of the EASA/FAA, it simply doesn't have the spending power to achieve much in that area anyway.

(It remains to be seen whether the FAA's reluctance to ground the 737 MAX has a long-term effect on its international standing as a solid-gold reference for international aviation safety.)


Because most countries are signatories to the Chicago Convention which created International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

As signatories they agree (and occasionally agree to disagree) on international aviation standards. This allows for a global aviation industry without every country duplicating every function.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.