Home » ASN News
Boeing to Pay at Least $17 Million to Settle Enforcement Cases on 737
28 May 2021

Boeing to Pay at Least $17 Million to Settle Enforcement Cases on 737

Boeing will pay at least $17 million in penalties for safety lapses and undertake multiple corrective actions with its production under a settlement agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA found that Boeing installed equipment on 759 Boeing 737 MAX and NG aircraft containing sensors that were not approved for that equipment; submitted approximately 178 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for airworthiness certification when the aircraft potentially had nonconforming slat tracks installed; and improperly marked those slat tracks.

Boeing will pay the $17 million penalty within 30 days after signing the agreement. If Boeing does not complete certain corrective actions within specific timeframes, the FAA will levy up to $10.1 million in additional penalties. The corrective actions include but are not limited to:

  • Strengthening procedures to ensure that it does not install on aircraft any parts that fail to conform to their approved design.
  • Performing Safety Risk Management analyses to determine whether its supply-chain oversight processes are appropriate and whether the company is ready to safely increase the Boeing 737 production rate.
  • Revising its production procedures to enable the FAA to observe production rate readiness assessments, the data on which the company bases the assessments, and the results of the assessments.
  • Taking steps to reduce the chance that it presents to the FAA aircraft with nonconforming parts for airworthiness certification or a Certificate of Export.
  • Enhancing processes to improve its oversight of parts suppliers.

The FAA will continue its oversight of Boeing’s engineering and production activities and is actively implementing oversight provisions from the 2020 Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act.  

FAA downgrades Mexico safety rating

The U.S. FAA announced that the Government of Mexico does not meet ICAO safety standards. Based on a reassessment of Mexico’s civil aviation authority, the FAA has downgraded Mexico’s rating to Category 2 from Category 1.

While the new rating allows Mexican air carriers to continue existing service to the United States, it prohibits any new service and routes. U.S. airlines will no longer be able to market and sell tickets with their names and designator codes on Mexican-operated flights. The FAA will increase its scrutiny of Mexican airline flights to the United States.

During its reassessment of the Agencia Federal de Aviacion Civil (AFAC) from October 2020 to February 2021, the FAA identified several areas of non-compliance with minimum ICAO safety standards. A Category 2 rating means that the country’s laws or regulations lack the necessary requirements to oversee the country’s air carriers in accordance with minimum international safety standards, or the civil aviation authority is lacking in one or more areas such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping, inspection procedures, or resolution of safety concerns.

Nigeria grounds Azman Air Boeing 737’s for safety audit

Following series of incidents involving Azman Air Boeing 737 aircraft, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) suspended the operations of all the Boeing 737 aircraft in the fleet of Azman Air Services Limited, with effect from March 15, 2021.

The suspension is to enable the NCAA to conduct an audit of the airline to determine the root cause(s) of the incidents, and recommend corrective actions.

The airline currently operates one Airbus A340-600, two Boeing 737-300’s and three Boeing 737-500’s.

In a recent incident a Boeing 737-500 suffered burst tyres upon landing at Lagos Airport, Nigeria.

FAA upgrades Costa Rica’s safety assessment rating

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that the Republic of Costa Rica complies with international safety standards and has been granted the highest international ranking.

Costa Rica received a Category 2 rating in May 2019 after it failed to comply with ICAO’s safety standards. A Category 2 IASA rating means the country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards for safety matters, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, or inspection procedures.

The Category 1 status announcement today is based on the reassessments in 2020 and a January 2021 safety oversight meeting with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC). A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards. Under Category 1 rating, properly authorized Costa Rican air carriers are permitted to serve the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers without limitation.

FAA downgrades international safety rating for Pakistan

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that Pakistan has been assigned a Category 2 rating because it does not comply with ICAO safety standards.

Under the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, the FAA assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that have applied to fly to the United States, currently conduct operations to the United States, or participate in code-sharing arrangements with U.S. partner airlines. The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority provides aviation safety oversight for Pakistan.

IASA assessments determine whether foreign civil aviation authorities comply with ICAO safety standards. Air carriers from countries with Category 2 ratings are not allowed to initiate new service to the United States, are restricted to current levels of existing service to the United States, and are not permitted to carry the code of U.S. carriers on any flights. Currently, no airlines operate regularly scheduled flights between Pakistan and the United States.

ICAO also audits it’s member states under the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP). The last audit in Pakistan was conducted in 2011, resulting in an average level of Effective Implementation score of 85%.

The FAA did not elaborate on the reason for their decision, but the news comes three weeks after the Pakistani aviation minister revealed that more than 30% of civilian pilots in Pakistan had fake licenses and were not qualified to fly. These pilots did not take exams themselves but paid someone else to sit it on their behalf.

FAA: Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) does not comply with ICAO safety standards

The U.S. FAA announced that the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has been assigned a Category 2 safety rating because it does not comply with ICAO safety standards under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program.

A Category 2 IASA rating means that laws or regulations lack the necessary requirements to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that civil aviation authorities are deficient in one or more areas, including technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, inspection procedures or resolution of safety concerns. The OECS’s carriers can continue existing service to the United States. They will not be allowed to establish new service to the United States.

The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) provides aviation safety oversight for OECS members Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, as well as St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Under the IASA program, the FAA assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that have applied to fly to the United States, currently conduct operations to the United States, or participate in code-sharing arrangements with U.S. partner airlines, and makes that information available to the public.

The assessments determine whether foreign civil aviation authorities comply with ICAO safety standards, rather than FAA regulations. A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards. A Category 1 rating allows air carriers from that country to establish service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers. To maintain a Category 1 rating, a country must adhere to the ICAO safety standards,

Audit: FAA has not effectively overseen Southwest Airlines’ SMS

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) concluded following an audit, that the FAA has not effectively overseen Southwest Airlines’ safety management system (SMS).
On March 9, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) established requirements for air carriers to implement a formal, top down approach to identifying and managing safety risks, known as  However, recent events have raised concerns about FAA’s safety oversight, particularly for Southwest Airlines, one of the largest passenger air carriers in the United States.
In early 2018, the OIG received a hotline complaint regarding FAA’s oversight of Southwest Airlines and a number of operational issues at the carrier. Subsequently, in April 2018, Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 suffered an engine failure, killing one passenger on board. In June 2018, the OIG initiated an audit to assess FAA’s oversight of Southwest Airlines’ SMS.
Findings
The audit found that Southwest Airlines continued to fly aircraft with unresolved safety concerns. For example, FAA learned in 2018 that the carrier regularly and frequently communicated incorrect aircraft weight and balance data to its pilots. Southwest Airlines also operated aircraft in an unknown airworthiness state, including more than 150,000 flights on previously owned aircraft that did not meet U.S. aviation standards. In both cases, the carrier continued operating aircraft without ensuring compliance with regulations because FAA accepted the air carrier’s justification that the issues identified were low safety risks.
Also, FAA inspectors did not evaluate air carrier risk assessments or safety culture as part of their oversight of Southwest Airlines’ SMS. This is because FAA had not provided inspectors with guidance on how to review risk assessments or how to evaluate and oversee a carrier’s safety culture.
The audit resulted in eleven recommendations to the FAA to improve its oversight of Southwest Airlines’ SMS. The FAA concurred with all recommendations.
More information:

Kazakhstan extends suspension of Bek Air’s AOC over safety issues

The Kazakhstan Aviation Administration extended the suspension of Bek Air’s Air Operator Certificate after it found several safety issues during an inspection at the airline following a fatal accident.

On December 27, 2019, a Fokker 100 of Bek Air crashed on takeoff from Almaty Airport, killing twelve. The aviation authorities proceeded to suspend the carrier’s AOC after this accident and initiated an inspection.

The authorities reported details of their findings, that led them to extend the suspension. Among others, the authorities noted issues with the tracking and record keeping of parts. For instance, serial numbers were removed from engines, making it impossible to verify the compliance of the engines, as well as to confirm the actual number of hours and cycles.
Also, flight crew training records were found to be incomplete and in some cases their authenticity was called into question.
With regards to the recent accident, the authorities state that CCTV evidence shows that no tactile inspection of the wings was carried out prior to departure.  This is a necessary check to determine the presence of ice on the wings.

If the violations are not remedied within 6 months, the AOC and the airworthiness certificates will be revoked.

The airline, in turn, issued a statement, responding to all issues raised by the authorities. For example, Bek Air states that id plates were removed that were “weakly attached” to important and expensive units (usually engines) and stored in the office of the aviation engineering team.

 

FAA proposes $5.4 million civil penalty against Boeing over nonconforming slat tracks on 737 MAX

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $5.4 million civil penalty against Boeing for allegedly installing nonconforming slat tracks on approximately 178 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which Boeing subsequently presented as ready for airworthiness certification.

This proposed civil penalty is in addition to a previously proposed civil penalty of more than $3.9 million against Boeing for allegedly installing the same nonconforming components on approximately 133 Boeing 737 NG aircraft. The FAA sent that letter to Boeing in early December.

Slat tracks are located on the leading edge of a Boeing 737’s wings and are used to guide the movement of panels known as slats. These panels provide additional lift during takeoff and landing.

The FAA alleges that Boeing failed to adequately oversee its suppliers to ensure they complied with the company’s quality assurance system. The agency contends that this failure resulted in the installation of slat tracks that were weakened by a condition known as hydrogen embrittlement that occurred during cadmium-titanium plating.

The FAA further alleges that Boeing knowingly submitted aircraft for final FAA airworthiness certification after determining that the parts could not be used due to a failed strength test at a third-tier supplier, indicating the presence of hydrogen embrittlement.

The FAA alleges that Boeing failed in this instance to maintain its quality system to ensure suppliers adhered to Federal Aviation Regulations.

Boeing has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

More information:

Audit: FAA needs to improve oversight to address maintenance issues at Allegiant Air

Following an audit, the Office of Inspector General  concluded that the FAA needs to improve its oversight to address maintenance issues impacting safety at Allegiant Air.

Low cost airline Allegiant Air, the 11th largest passenger airline in the United States, grew faster than the airline industry as a whole in 2018 by carrying approximately 14 million passengers. However, incidents at this air carrier –  including a series of in-flight engine shutdowns, aborted takeoffs, and unscheduled landings – have raised concerns about its maintenance practices.  The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Transportation thus initiated an audit in 2018 to assess FAA’s processes for investigating improper maintenance practices at Allegiant Air. Specifically, FAA’s (1) oversight of longstanding maintenance issues impacting safety at Allegiant Air and (2) process for ensuring Allegiant Air implemented effective corrective actions to address the root causes of maintenance problems.

The OIG found that since 2011, FAA inspectors have not consistently documented risks associated with 36 Allegiant Air in-flight engine shutdowns for its MD-80 fleet or correctly assessed the root cause of maintenance issues. This was because inspectors did not follow FAA’s inspector guidance that requires them to document changes in their oversight once they have identified areas of increased risk. Also, FAA’s Compliance Program and inspector guidance do not include key factors related to carriers’ violations of Federal regulations. Specifically, they do not contain provisions for inspectors to consider the severity of outcomes when deciding what action to take following a non-compliance. As a result, FAA is missing opportunities to address maintenance issues and mitigate safety risks in a timely manner.

Nine safety recommendations were issued to the FAA.