FAA Admits Oversight Failures on Boeing's 737 Max Manufacturing Issues

The FAA admits it failed in its oversight of Boeing's manufacturing practices after a door plug blew off during a 737 Max flight. The FAA has since tightened its inspections and hired more staff. Investigations into the incident and Boeing's practices are ongoing.

PTI | Washington DC | Updated: 14-06-2024 00:44 IST | Created: 14-06-2024 00:44 IST
FAA Admits Oversight Failures on Boeing's 737 Max Manufacturing Issues
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The top US aviation regulator acknowledged on Thursday that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) should have been more vigilant about manufacturing problems at Boeing prior to a panel blowout on a 737 Max during an Alaska Airlines flight in January.

"FAA's approach was too hands-off, overly reliant on paperwork audits, and insufficient in onsite inspections," FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker testified before a Senate committee.

Since the January 5 incident, the FAA has adopted a more hands-on approach, increasing its oversight of Boeing. This includes stationing more inspectors in factories of both Boeing and its primary supplier, Spirit AeroSystems.

Whitaker's comments come as the FAA, the Justice Department, and the National Transportation Safety Board continue to investigate the aerospace giant. The FAA has capped Boeing's monthly production of 737 Max jets at 38, although the company is producing far fewer while addressing quality-control issues.

Investigators revealed that the door plug that blew out of the Alaska jet lacked four essential bolts, which were missing due to lapses at a Boeing factory. The company had no records of the personnel who performed the task or the omission of the bolts.

"If Boeing claims, 'We don't have the documentation, we don't know who removed it,' then where was the FAA safety inspector?" Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., questioned Whitaker.

"At that moment, inspectors were not stationed there," Whitaker replied.

"And why, not?" Cantwell pressed further.

"Because the agency was then focusing on auditing Boeing's internal quality programs," Whitaker explained. "Clearly, we lacked sufficient ground presence to monitor factory activities." Whitaker added that the FAA is recruiting more air traffic controllers and safety inspectors, though it faces competition for talent from the aerospace industry. He noted that the agency has lost experienced inspectors, leaving a skills gap in its current, younger workforce.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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