Senate Committee Questions FAA’s Oversight of Boeing Following Recent Incident

Last Thursday, the Senate Commerce Committee’s chairperson sought clarification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding its supervision of Boeing’s manufacturing processes, following a recent incident involving an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9. Senator Maria Cantwell expressed concerns over Boeing’s quality control in light of recent mishaps. She also questioned the effectiveness of the FAA’s oversight in ensuring the production of safe aircraft, highlighting that manufacturers are given a 50-day heads-up before audits of their quality systems, allowing them to prepare.


In January 2023, Cantwell requested the FAA to conduct a special technical audit of 11 aspects of Boeing’s production systems. However, the FAA in April dismissed the need for such an audit, stating that it had the necessary tools to regularly audit Boeing. The incident has led to increased scrutiny of Boeing’s quality control and the FAA’s oversight by lawmakers, as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates.


The FAA, which promised to respond directly to Cantwell, has initiated a formal investigation into the 737 MAX 9 to ascertain if Boeing failed to adhere to approved designs and safety regulations. Boeing’s CEO, Dave Calhoun, acknowledged a lapse in quality control that allowed the MAX 9, which experienced a cabin panel blowout, to fly. Boeing has pledged full and transparent cooperation with the FAA and NTSB investigations in response to Cantwell’s letter.


Cantwell has requested the FAA to provide records of safety audits conducted on Boeing and fuselage supplier Spirit AeroSystems over the past two years by January 25. She also asked the FAA to address questions about its supervision of manufacturers’ quality control processes. Cantwell expressed concerns about Boeing’s “Verification Optimization” program, which she claims led to the elimination of thousands of quality inspections on each aircraft, with mechanics instead self-verifying their work. This resulted in the removal of 900 quality inspector positions at Boeing, a move she believes contradicts FAA’s requirements. In May 2022, the FAA granted Boeing a shorter extension for its regulatory compliance program than what the company had requested. In September, the agency established a policy to protect aviation employees performing government certification duties from interference by aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing.

Endless Possibilities

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post

1 / 3
2 / 3
3 / 3
EN - 728x90