An influential US Senate committee warned that Boeing’s new planes are not built to the highest standards.
It was also critical of how FAA certified the company’s planes as safe for flying.
Based on seven industry whistleblowers’ testimony, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation reported.
This was in reaction to the deaths of 346 victims from two Boeing 737 Max accidents.
Boeing confirmed that they were reviewing the report and said: “Boeing co-workers are encouraged not to silence anyone with safety or quality concerns.”
The FAA also stated that the FAA had previously reported many of the issues discussed in the report. Boeing is working to resolve them.
The FAA stated Monday that it takes all whistleblower claims seriously and will not tolerate any retaliation for those raising safety concerns.
Risque of catastrophe
Aviation Safety Whistleblower Report (97 pages) highlighted the allegations that FAA’s safety certification process was “suffered from undue Pressure on Line Engineers and Production Staff”.
The report also discussed conflicts of interest where, for instance, the same engineer was responsible for both preparing and carrying out official testing equipment.
According to the report, engineers who have specific technical skills were either ignored or marginalized during development of Boeing’s 737 Max as well as the 787 Dreamliner.
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It states that an FAA engineer advised his superiors about the danger of the 787 suffering “catastrophic fail due to uncontrolled flames” as a result of the manner its batteries were placed. The battery fires that engulfed the 787 in 2013 led to its suspension.
Whistleblowers also claim that the FAA processes are flawed, which “have led to aircraft designs that don’t meet the latest airworthiness standards.”
This allowed the 737 Max, later involved in two crashes, to fly without being checked.
The report stated that flaws in aircraft systems were either creatively concealed or withheld from FAA officials during certification.
Further, the report stated that the FAA failed to have enough safety officers to supervise the highly-criticized “Organization Designation Authorization” program, where Boeing was responsible for completing a substantial amount of safety certification work on their own products on behalf of regulator.
Some critics have said that this is like Boeing “marking it’s own homework”.
In addition, the committee’s report draws upon testimony that shows FAA prioritized efficiency by delegating more work. As a result, safety oversight of FAA personnel has been diminished.
It was pointed out in the document that two of the most recent aircraft certified by the regulator – the 737 Max and 787 – were grounded later for safety reasons.
In the case of the 737 Max this led to the loss of hundreds of lives and is estimated to have cost Boeing more than $20bn (£15.2bn).
Boeing reached a January deferred prosecution deal with the US Justice Department. This agreement included $2.5bn of fines and compensatory payments related to the 737 Max crash.
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