FAA plans to fine Boeing, Southwest Airlines US$9.3 million

THE US Federal Aviation Administration (F) plans to impose a penalty of US$5

15 January 2020 - 19:00
THE US Federal Aviation Administration (F) plans to impose a penalty of US$5.4 million on aircraft manufacturer Boeing for allegedly installing non-conforming slat tracks on the wings of 178 x B737 MAXs, after the aircraft were presented as ready for airworthiness certification.

Early last month, the F proposed a $3.9 million penalty against Boeing for installing nonconforming slat tracks on 133 x 737NG aircraft, reported American Shipper.

The F alleged that Boeing failed to adequately oversee its suppliers to ensure they complied with the company's quality assurance system and that it was this failure that resulted in the defective components being installed. The slats were weakened by a condition known as hydrogen embrittlement that occurred during a plating process when they were manufactured.

The F also alleges that Boeing knowingly submitted the affected aircraft for final airworthiness certification after determining the parts could not be used due to a failed strength test.

Boeing was cited as saying: 'We are working closely with our customers to take the appropriate corrective actions consistent with the Airworthiness Directive.'

The manufacturer also said it will ensure that all inspections and any necessary part replacements are performed on all 737 MAXs before they return to service.

The B737 MAX has been grounded worldwide since March following two fatal crashes related to a flight control system installed on the aircraft.

The F earlier proposed a $3.9 million penalty against Southwest Airlines for allegedly operating 44 aircraft on 21,500 flights with incorrect calculations of weight and balance data.

F said that between May 2018 and August 2019 the aircraft were operated with incorrect operational empty weights and centre of gravity or movement data. The weight-related information is used with other data in determining how many passengers and how much fuel can be safely carried, as well as where cargo must be located.

The proposed penalty pertains to data processing issues that occurred while transferring aircraft weight information from one Southwest computer system to other computer systems in the spring of 2018. A spokesperson said the issues were identified and reported by Southwest to the F in late July 2018 and fully resolved in early August 2018.

'Since discovering the data discrepancy in 2018, in coordination with the F, Southwest has enhanced its weight and balance programme by implementing additional controls to strengthen the process of managing aircraft weight data in our systems.

'We continue to monitor the performance of our weight and balance programme closely to support our unwavering commitment to safety, compliance, and continuous improvement.'

Southwest added that it will continue working with the F to demonstrate the effectiveness of its controls and processes and 'seek to achieve an effective and appropriate resolution to this proposed penalty'.

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