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FAA proposes $19.68 million civil penalty against Boeing
7 March 2020

FAA proposes $19.68 million civil penalty against Boeing

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $19.68 million civil penalty against The Boeing Co. for allegedly installing equipment on hundreds of the company’s 737 aircraft containing sensors that were not approved for that equipment.

The FAA alleges that between June 2015 and April 2019, Boeing installed Rockwell Collins Head-up Guidance Systems on 791 jetliners, including 618 Boeing 737 NGs and 173 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The FAA alleges that the guidance systems in these aircraft were equipped with sensors that had not been tested or approved as being compatible with those guidance systems.

The FAA alleges that Boeing violated Federal Aviation Regulations when it certified these aircraft as airworthy when they were not in conformance with their type certificate. The agency further alleges that Boeing failed to follow its own Business Process Instructions, which are in place to help prevent such situations from occurring.
The manufacturer of the head-up guidance system, Rockwell Collins, subsequently conducted the necessary testing and risk analysis and updated the documents.

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

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.

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FAA proposes revoking Nantucket Express’s air carrier certificate over alleged safety issues

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes to revoke the air carrier certificate of Nantucket Express, LLC of Nantucket, Mass., for allegedly conducting passenger-carrying flights using unqualified pilots and operating unauthorized aircraft.

The FAA alleges that:

  • Between March 2015 and September 2017, Nantucket Express conducted 76 passenger-carrying flights using three aircraft that were not listed on its air carrier certificate, and that unqualified pilots operated these flights. The pilots were unqualified by either not being listed on the air carrier certificate as an authorized pilot or by failing to pass a required knowledge test and competency and flight checks.
  • Nantucket Express operated 39 of these passenger-carrying flights in an aircraft that had not undergone required safety inspections.
  • Between April 2016 and September 2017, unqualified pilots operated an additional 17 passenger-carrying flights.

The FAA alleges that “Nantucket Express’s actions were careless or reckless, and its numerous violations of the Federal Aviation Regulations demonstrate that it lacks the qualifications to hold an air carrier certificate.”

Nantucket Express has 15 days from when it receives the Notice of Proposed Certificate Action to notify the FAA on how it will respond to the proposed revocation. If the company fails to respond within that time, the FAA will issue a revocation order.

FAA proposes $145,452 civil penalty against Sioux Gateway Airport

 The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $145,452 civil penalty against the Sioux Gateway Airport for numerous alleged safety violations at the Iowa airfield.

The FAA inspected Sioux Gateway Airport in May 2018, June 2019 and September 2019 and found numerous alleged violations each time. The FAA alleges the airport repeatedly failed to maintain surfaces, runway and taxiway markings, and visual wind direction indicators.

In May 2018 and June 2019, FAA inspectors found the airport did not properly grade the Runway Safety Areas for both runways to eliminate hazardous ruts, humps, depressions or other surface variations. The FAA also alleges the runway and taxiway markings were not properly maintained and were not clearly visible, lacked proper lighting, marking or signs, and wind indicators were faded, making them difficult to see.

In September 2019 during a construction inspection, FAA inspectors found that two taxiways were not properly marked, and one of them was not properly maintained, creating potentially hazardous Foreign Object Debris.

Sioux Gateway Airport has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

FAA proposes to revoke Executive Air Express’ Air Carrier Certificate

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed to revoke the air carrier certificate of Executive Air Express of Nashville, Tenn., USA, for allegedly using unauthorized aircraft in 30 passenger-carrying flights.

The FAA alleges that between Jan. 31, 2016, and Sept. 29, 2017, Executive conducted a total of 28 flights with paying passengers using a Learjet 35A corporate jet that was not on the company’s FAA-issued Operations Specifications (Ops Specs). Air carriers can only conduct for-hire flights using aircraft that are on their Ops Specs.

Between Jan. 31, 2016 and Oct. 24, 2016, Executive conducted 12 flights with the Learjet, the FAA alleges. On Oct. 24, 2016, the company requested that the FAA add the aircraft to its Ops Specs. Then, between Oct. 24, 2016 and May 3, 2017, Executive conducted an additional 15 flights using the Learjet, the FAA alleges.

On May 3, 2017, the FAA denied Executive’s request to add the Learjet to its Ops Specs, citing 49 discrepancies the company needed to address before the FAA could resume its inspection of the aircraft. On Sept. 29, 2017, Executive conducted another for-hire flight with the Learjet, the FAA alleges. The FAA also alleges Executive failed to conduct the required 25 hours of proving tests before using the Learjet in for-hire operations.

Additionally, the FAA alleges Executive conducted two for-hire flights on May 2, 2018, using a Swearingen SA226-T Merlin III that was not listed in its Ops Specs.

Executive’s operation of the Learjet and Swearingen was careless or reckless and endangered lives and property, the FAA alleges.

Executive has 15 days after receiving the FAA’s proposed revocation letter to respond to the agency.

FAA proposes $3.9 Million penalty against Boeing for installing nonconforming slat tracks

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a civil penalty of more than $3.9 million against The Boeing Co. for installing nonconforming components on approximately 133 aircraft, which Boeing subsequently presented as ready for airworthiness certification.

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.

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

The agency alleges that the affected slat tracks were processed by Southwest United Industries (SUI), a third-tier supplier to Boeing, on June 29, 2018. SUI subsequently shipped the parts to Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. (Spirit), which then delivered the parts to Boeing.

The FAA also alleges that SUI notified Kencoa Aerospace, LLC, on July 6, 2018, that a batch of the slat tracks had failed a quality test indicating the presence of hydrogen embrittlement. Kencoa passed that information to Spirit on or about Aug. 3, 2018.

The FAA alleges that Spirit informed Boeing of the situation on or about Sept. 11, 2018, and subsequently proposed that Boeing accept the parts as delivered. On Oct. 9, 2018, Boeing rejected that proposal and instructed Spirit to submit a Notice of Escapement. Spirit filed that notice on Feb. 14, 2019, according to documents.

The FAA further alleges that from Aug. 16, 2018, through Oct. 9, 2018, Boeing certified approximately 48 aircraft potentially equipped with those slat tracks as airworthy. Between Oct. 10, 2018, and May 2, 2019, Boeing knowingly certified an additional 85 potentially affected aircraft as airworthy.

The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) on June 10, 2019, mandating inspections proposed in a Boeing service bulletin dated June 4, 2019, of the affected aircraft. The AD specified various actions based on the ability to identify the slat tracks.

The FAA alleges that identification of the defective parts was hindered because SUI did not apply a protective coating over the part identification mark that is required to be displayed on the slat tracks. As a result, those part identification marks became either obscured or invisible, making it difficult to identify the affected parts.

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

Boeing has 30 days to respond to the FAA’s letter proposing this civil penalty in the total amount of $3,916,871.

FAA revokes certificate of maintenance firm that delivered faulty 737 MAX AOA sensor to Lion Air

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an order on October 25, 2019, revoking the repair station certificate of Xtra Aerospace, LLC, of Miramar, Florida.

According to the order, Xtra failed to comply with requirements to repair only aircraft parts on its list of parts acceptable to the FAA that it was capable of repairing. The company also failed to comply with procedures in its repair station manual for implementing a capability list in accordance with the Federal Aviation Regulations. Xtra is a repair station certificated under part 145 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.

The FAA began its investigation in November 2018. Investigators looked specifically at the company’s compliance with regulatory requirements that apply to its capability list, and records and work orders for aircraft parts it approved for return to service. The investigation determined that from November 2009 until May 2019, Xtra failed to complete and retain records in accordance with procedures in its repair station manual to support parts on its capability list. The company also did not substantiate that it had adequate facilities, tools, test equipment, technical publications, and trained and qualified employees to repair parts on its capability list.

The agency issued the order as part of a settlement agreement with the company. Under the agreement, Xtra waives its right to appeal the revocation to the National Transportation Safety Board or any court.

On the same day the order was issued, the Indonesian NTSC investigators published their final report on the Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX crash. It was concluded that MCAS activation on a previous flight was caused by faulty repair and calibration of an AOA sensor by Xtra Aerospace.  This led the NTSC to issue a safety recommendation to the FAA: “The absence of equivalency assessment required by Xtra Aerospace procedure and unavailability of procedure was not detected by the FAA. This indicated inadequacy of the FAA oversight. Therefore, NTSC recommends that the FAA improves the oversight to Approved Maintenance Organization (AMO) to ensure the processes within the AMO are conducted in accordance with the requirements.”

 

CAA Nepal suspends AOC of Simrik Airlines over safety issues

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), has grounded Simrik Airlines for failing to meet safety standards.

The inspection team of CAAN had found that the airline was using substandard spare parts in its Beech 1900 aircraft. CAAN did the same finding in an audit in 2018.  The aircraft will be grounded until the airline replaces its spare parts and conducts the required maintenance of its aircraft.

Simrik Airlines was founded in 2009 and operates domestic flights in Nepal using two Beech 1900C aircraft.

FAA proposes $715,438 civil penalty against Allegiant Air

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $715,438 civil penalty against Allegiant Air for allegedly operating an aircraft on more than two dozen flights following improper engine maintenance.

In October 2017, Allegiant asked the FAA if it could deactivate an MD-80’s functioning automatic reverse thrust system when the aircraft engine’s exhaust gas temperature exceeds normal limits. The FAA in December 2017 responded that deactivating that system would be improper unless the system caused the excess temperature, because the temperature exceedance could have other causes.

The FAA alleges that on April 13, 2018, the exhaust gas temperature of an Allegiant MD-88 engine exceeded normal limits while the plane was taking off from Roanoke Blacksburg Regional Airport in Virginia for Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida. When this occurs, the MD-80 maintenance manual calls for turning off the automatic reserve thrust system, finding the cause of the excess temperature, and correcting the cause before turning the system on again.

Allegiant, however, did not determine the cause of the excess temperature, the FAA alleges. Instead, the carrier deactivated the system on April 14, 2018, and installed an inoperative placard on it.

Between April 14, 2018, and April 22, 2018, Allegiant operated the MD-88 on 28 passenger-carrying flights without determining the cause of the excessive engine exhaust gas temperature, the FAA alleges. As a result, Allegiant violated the terms of its FAA-issued operations specifications, the agency alleges.

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

South African CAA again suspends CemAir Air Operator Certificates over safety concerns

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) again suspended CemAir’s Part 121 and 135 Air Operator Certificates (AOCs) on Friday, 11 January 2019.

The regulator stated there were “concerns over the systemic failure of the airline’s maintenance controls […] the most recent annual renewal audit revealed CemAir’s inability to prove the continued airworthiness of its fleet.”

CemAir’s two AOC’s had earlier been suspended on December 13, 2018.  On December 18 however, a court order lifted the suspension. A subsequent audit revealed eleven findings of which five  were classified as Level 1. CemAir then submitted a Corrective Action Plan to the CAA for 11 of the findings. The initial plan and subsequent revised versions were reviewed and found to be unacceptable. On 26 December 2018, the SACAA grounded eight of the airline’s aircraft with immediate effect.

The regulator performed additional inspections and learned that the operator could not produce sufficient evidence that maintenance recommendations made by the aircraft manufacturer were fully implemented. The CAA judged the findings to be ‘serious’ and proceeded to immediately suspend CemAir’s Part 121 and 135 AOC’s.