Whatever is ultimately concluded about the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX crashes, the response to the second accident was an aviation regulatory gamechanger.

Typically, the US—and FAA in particular—is the global leader when it comes to major safety decisions, such as issuing an emergency grounding order. That is especially true where a US-made and certified aircraft is involved.

In this case, of course, the opposite was true. By the time the US issued its grounding order, it was the last to do so. China, where slightly more MAXs are installed than in the US, was quickest to take the “safe not sorry” approach. Other countries with well-regarded aviation authorities, including Australia and Singapore, followed suit, as did EASA and then Canada. Agree or disagree with their approach when so little was known about the second, Ethiopian, crash, the fact remains that none of those countries or regulatory authorities felt it necessary to be guided by where FAA stood in making the call to ground. For the most part, the public—and affected non-US airlines—agreed with them.

This is a new world order that FAA will find difficult to fold back, especially if any major design fix is found to be necessary for the MAX.

Unfortunately, as happened with the 2013 groundings of the Boeing 787 after a series of fires related to its lithium-ion batteries, FAA, DOT, Boeing—and, indeed, Boeing’s US airline customers—looked uncomfortably too much in lockstep as they unilaterally agreed, after each non-US grounding, that they were right to keep the MAX in the air.

Since 2005, when FAA changed its certification procedures to allow qualified manufacturers to select their own employees to certify their own aircraft, FAA has been more reliant on those manufacturer decisions.

And when a major event happens—such as two airliners of the same type crashing within five months—US regulators seem unable to stand clearly at arm’s length from the US manufacturer.  But as AFA president Sara Nelson said, “America in international aviation means the larger world more generally—that we set the standard for safety, competence, and honesty in governance of aviation.”

That is still true, but FAA, DOT and Boeing should take careful note of how the sands shifted with the tragic Ethiopian crash. Convenient as it may be, it is not enough to say that China and the rest of the world bowed to emotional pressure while the US waited for facts. The world also wants clear evidence that major safety decisions are made without any political or economic pressure.