FAA to Increase Boeing Oversight

(IntegrityTimes.com) – On Thursday, January 11, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made an official announcement that they will be investigating Boeing to ascertain whether they failed to ensure their equipment complied with FAA regulations. Specifically, they will be conducting an audit of the Boeing 737 Max-9 line and the suppliers of parts for those planes as they believe there may be manufacturing problems at the company.

This comes on the heels of the January 5 incident when an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max-9 flight was forced to make an emergency landing after a door plug detached from the plane exposing passengers and crew to open air at 16,000 ft. A door plug is a panel that is mounted in place of an unneeded door. Luckily, there were no serious injuries reported.

The FAA has ordered all Boeing 737-9 Max planes utilizing door plugs grounded, resulting in all 65 operated by Alaska and 79 used by United Airlines now being grounded causing mass flight cancellations. All Boeing 737 Max-8s and 737 Max-9s were grounded for two years after crashes involving the Max-8s killed 157 passengers and crew on an Ethiopian Airlines flight and all 189 people on board an Indonesian Lion Air flight in 2018. Both deadly crashes are believed to have been caused by technical issues.

FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker says the FAA will be re-examining the longstanding practice of allowing plane manufacturers to conduct their own safety analysis of planes. An overhaul of the inspection system was explored under previous FAA Administrator Dan Elwell after the 2 devastating crashes in 2018 but it was ultimately scrapped as too costly as it would have required the FAA to hire about 10,000 new employees. The current proposal would be to use third-party independent inspectors. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal commented that using inspectors who work for the manufacturers and are therefore beholden to them is like letting a fox guard the hen house.

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