Singapore Airlines' first 787-10 Dreamliner in North Charleston, South Carolina.

FAA Says Boeing Pressured Inspectors, Proposes Penalties

Aug. 6, 2020
The federal air-safety regulator proposed two civil penalties totaling $1.25 million, alleging Boeing interfered with the work of employees authorized to inspect aircraft and issue airworthiness certificates.

The Federal Aviation Administration is charging Boeing Co. with pressuring employees authorized to perform approved functions on behalf of the FAA, including inspecting aircraft and issuing airworthiness certificates. The agency is proposing two civil penalties for the jet builder, totaling $1.25 million.

Similar allegations were raised by whistleblowers concerning the 737 MAX certification process in 2017, and again last month in a Dept. of Transportation Inspector General report reviewing problems in that process.

However, in its description of the two penalties FAA alleges that Boeing managers exerted undue pressure or interfered with the work of FAA designees at the North Charleston, SC, plant, where Boeing assembles the 787 Dreamliner.

The South Carolina plant also is the location of several unsuccessful union-organizing efforts by the International Association of Machinists.

The first civil penalty FAA is proposing, for $1,066,655, alleges Boeing implemented an improper structure of FAA's Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program. Between November 2017 and July 2019, according to FAA, employees in two ODA units reported to managers who were not in approved ODA management positions.

Boeing failed to ensure ODA administrators were in a position to represent the FAA’s interests effectively, according to the federal agency. FAA further alleges that from September 2018 to May 2019, non-ODA Boeing managers pressured or interfered with ODA unit members.

As for the second civil penalty, for $184,522, alleges that on February 26, 2020, Boeing failed to follow its quality control processes and subjected ODA members to undue pressure, or interfered with an airworthiness inspection of a Boeing 787-9.

In both cases FAA found that despite the alleged undue pressure or interference from Boeing managers, the ODA unit members fulfilled their FAA responsibilities to ensure aircraft were conforming and in a condition for safe operation prior to issuance of their airworthiness certificates.

FAA regulations provide 30 days for Boeing to respond to the agency.

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