Well, pretty much since then there has been an epic effort underway to overhaul the US airworthiness directive system, basically to instill some commonsense back into it.
And now, under new administrator Randy Babbitt, the plan is out. There's also a press release.
But that fact sheet at the link absolutely confirms just how scandalous the original situation was. Here's the smoking gun: "It also determined that a highly charged media environment contributed to an overly conservative FAA response to the situation."
In short, very senior people running the FAA and indeed the airlines completely lost their nerve. Not just because of the media reaction I think, but also for fear of congressman Oberstar and his hangers on.
Unfortunately I fear that this is not all over yet. Consider for example this from the fact sheet: "The FAA defined a 24/7 process for agency engineers to support inspectors who have compliance questions on complex ADs and support them throughout the approval of urgent Alternate Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)."
It was an AMOC (subsequently approved) that was at the centre of the American MD-80 nonsense. I salute in advance the brave soul who agrees to an AMOC in the small hours of the morning knowing he is going to be second-guessed by the bullying Mr Oberstar the next day.
Good luck to all.