Republic of Thieves

How’s that for a title of a thriller/ deep conspiracy novel? Here’s the fictional premise: An agency of the government is charged with making sure that airplanes are safe to fly. They are to test the airworthiness of the aircraft and issue airworthiness certificates. A very large manufacturer of airplanes offers to have its own employees do the testing, then turn the results over to the agency, which will then issue the airworthiness certificate.
An insider discovers a serious design flaw in the aircraft that is apparently being covered up by the employees of the manufacturer. When agency officials warn the company they are going to withdraw the airworthiness certificate, the company replies that this will bring tremendous harm to the company, and a massive loss of income due especially to sales of the craft to foreign sales. The company convinces the decision-makers that voiding the airworthiness certification will result in the loss of thousands of American jobs, and will give an irretrievable advantage to an overseas competitor. Word comes down from the uppermost levels of leadership: say nothing about this flaw, and do not withdraw the airworthiness certificate. They suggest, against evidence, that the flaw is not real. And besides, the loss of a few hundred lives world-wide is less painful than the loss of thousands of good-paying American jobs.
American news media are threatened with loss of all access to government sources if they report these concerns, and a distracting scandal involving sex and rich families using their wealth to gain unfair advantage is offered to fill the space instead.
The hero(ine) at the center of the novel uncovers the truth and places her life at risk trying to stop unsafe airplanes from flying.
On a totally unrelated note: BBC reports that Boeing had its own staff conduct the airworthiness tests on the 737 Max, turning these results over to FAA, who used their results to issue the airworthiness certificates. After two crashes in less than six months, multiple other countries have withdrawn permission for the 737 Max to fly into their airspace. FAA officials continue to insist there is no problem with the airworthiness of the plane.

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