The Federal Aviation Administration has slapped Boeing with a US$6.6 million fine. It’s pocket change compared to the multi-billion dollar fine the Department of Justice hit Boeing with earlier this year. The latest fine relates to Boeing’s failure to meet agreed safety oversight changes dating from 2015. In addition, the penalty settles two other outstanding issues at the aircraft manufacturer.
Boeing resolves several outstanding FAA matters
According to a statement issued on Thursday by the FAA, the $6.6 million fine settles a couple of matters. There’s a $5.4 million fine for failing to meet its performance obligations under a 2015 settlement agreement. There are also two pending FAA enforcement cases Boeing is paying $1.21 million to settle.
“Boeing failed to meet all of its obligations under the settlement agreement, and the FAA is holding Boeing accountable by imposing additional penalties,” said the FAA’s Steve Dickson.
“I have reiterated to Boeing’s leadership time and again that the company must prioritize safety and regulatory compliance and that the FAA will always put safety first in all its decisions.”
The 2015 agreement is a 29-page document that sets out several quality and safety oversight issues the aviation regulator wanted improved. The agreement allowed the FAA to assess deferred penalties if those improvements did not get made. The FAA believes Boeing has not met all the terms of that agreement. Subsequently, it hit the aircraft manufacturer with the $5.4 million fine. That’s on top of the $12 million Boeing paid in 2015 as part of the settlement.
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Smaller fine deals with ongoing workplace issues at Boeing
The smaller $1.21 million fine tackles two issues the FAA was investigating. In the first matter, the FAA alleges some Boeing employees completed certification work on the FAA’s behalf. This occurs under the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program. Unfortunately, some of the employees assigned to the certification tasks were not authorized. This occurred between November 2017 and July 2019.
The second matter involved employees doing certification work on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners. The FAA alleges Boeing failed to follow quality control processes and “subjected ODA members to undue pressure or interference in relation to an aircraft airworthiness inspection.”
Boeing’s quality control issues with its Dreamliner program are extensively reported in Simple Flying. Last year, Boeing began moving production of the aircraft type to Charleston, South Carolina. It was part of a move to conserve cash at Boeing. But it also brings production of the plane under one roof, better allowing it to manage ongoing quality control issues.
“We are strengthening our work processes and operations to ensure we hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards of safety and quality,” Boeing says in a statement.
Boeing hopes to draw a line under the saga
Like the Department of Justice settlement, Boeing hopes to draw a line under this saga with payment of the penalty.
“Boeing believes that the announcement today fairly resolves previously-announced civil penalty actions while accounting for ongoing safety, quality and compliance process improvements.”
Meanwhile, the FAA is striking a tougher tone. Their statement suggests they won’t be winding back the oversight at Boeing.
“The FAA will be vigilant in its oversight of Boeing’s engineering and production activities, and is actively implementing the certification reform and oversight provisions of the 2020 Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act,” the FAA’s statement says.
“This legislation will allow FAA to assess even greater civil penalties against manufacturers that exert undue pressure on ODA unit members.”
What do you think? Is the FAA being too tough on Boeing or does the aircraft manufacturer need to sort out its quality control issues? Post a comment and let us know?