by Ted O’Neil
The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday announced it would retain sole authority to issue airworthiness certificates and perform any final inspections on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Meanwhile, two members of Congress, including Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, have asked for an investigation into why the FAA decided not to penalize Boeing for fatal crashes involving its 737 MAX.
The House Transportation Committee last fall asked the Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General to conduct a review of the FAA’s oversight on the 787.
The lawmakers asked that the review include whether the FAA’s inspection program was sufficient and if the agency had enough inspectors.
Boeing has slowed production on the 787 to two per month until the FAA signs off on safety improvements.
Problems first popped up in the fall of 2020 when engineers found gaps between fuselage sections. The company then said it discovered that fuselage and tail sections made in Italy and shipped to the U.S. contained titanium that did not meet specifications.
Larsen, who chairs the House Aviation Subcommittee, and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who chairs the House Transportation Committee, sent a letter last week to the same Inspector General’s Office asking for a review the FAA’s decision regarding the 737.
In a final report last November, the agency stated that “Through a thorough, transparent and inclusive process, the FAA has determined that Boeing’s proposed changes to the 737 MAX design, flight crew procedures and maintenance procedures effectively mitigate the airplane-related safety issues that contributed to the Flight 610 and Flight 302 accidents.”
The FAA said it also concluded that the proposed design changes go beyond safety concerns that accident investigators originally identified in clearing the aircraft to resume flying.
Larsen and DeFazio sent a letter to the Department of Transportation stating “We respectfully request that you review FAA’s refusal to exercise proper oversight over Boeing’s apparent misconduct,” according to the Seattle Times.
The pair have said they think the company, and possibly individual employees, should face civil action.
The Department of Justice last year fined Boeing $244 million for concealing design changes that were made after FAA approval.
Boeing has continued to face financial difficulties throughout the ordeal.
The fourth quarter of 2020 was the ninth out of the last 11 that it lost money. The company lost $7.69 cents per share last quarter while revenues fell 3% to $14.8 billion. Analysts had predicted a loss of 36 cents per share.
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