Air Freight News

Boeing faces FAA probe of Dreamliner inspections, records

Boeing Co. faces a new investigation by US aviation safety regulators after alerting authorities to potentially incomplete inspections on its 787 long-haul jetliner, further intensifying pressure as the planemaker contends with several probes of its manufacturing practices.

Boeing notified the US Federal Aviation Administration in April that the company may not have completed required inspections of how the 787 Dreamliner’s wings join to the airplane’s body, the agency said in a statement on Monday. The FAA is also examining whether workers may have falsified aircraft records.

The latest inquiry risks worsening a crisis of confidence that has thrown the company into turmoil since a fuselage panel blew off a nearly new 737 Max plane mid-flight in early January. The FAA’s probe also comes after whistleblowers last month told US lawmakers that the planemaker prioritizes production rates over safety and quality.

The new mishaps don’t create an immediate flight safety issue, but they will disrupt factory operations as Boeing conducts tests on aircraft being assembled, Scott Stocker, who leads the 787 program, told Boeing employees in an April 29 message.

A testing “irregularity” was flagged by a worker in Boeing’s North Charleston, South Carolina, factory and shared with executive leadership, Stocker wrote in the message. A review revealed that “several people” had not performed a required test but recorded that work as having been completed, violating company policy, Stocker wrote. 

“We promptly informed our regulator about what we learned and are taking swift and serious corrective action with multiple teammates,” he wrote.

The FAA has also stepped up oversight of Boeing, capped 737 Max output and ordered the company to create a comprehensive plan to address its quality and safety shortcomings by late May.

Boeing shares fell less than 1% in trading Monday after dropping as much as 2.8% after the news, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. The shares have tumbled nearly 32% this year.

Boeing has said it is encouraging workers to speak up about safety concerns and irregular factory practices to change its culture on the factory floor. In his April 29 message, Stocker commended the employee who reported the lapse for “doing the right thing.” 

No airplanes have been taken out of service as a result of the incident for now, and Dreamliner production is continuing. Boeing must create a plan to address 787 planes that are already in service, the FAA said.

Stocker said he would be meeting with several teams to discuss efforts to “ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Bloomberg
Bloomberg

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© Bloomberg
The author’s opinion are not necessarily the opinions of the American Journal of Transportation (AJOT).

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