FAA Chief Admits to Boeing Problems

(RightWing.org) – In a basic Economics 101 class, students are often asked to break into study groups and determine how a fictitious company could best develop, produce, and sell the all-important widget. In the real world, when a manufacturer cannot deliver their product to market, potential buyers will either voluntarily or be forced to look elsewhere to fulfill their needs. Such is the case with the mega aviation company, Boeing, which the FAA now admits had problems with one of its models.

A MAX-Sized Problem

The Boeing 737 is one of the most-flown passenger jets in the world and is used by more than 5,000 airlines; it can be seen flying the skies in most countries. So, any problems that come up can have a serious impact on the company, especially since the Airbus A320 variants have been steadily overtaking their dominance in that class of aircraft.

On January 5, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 departed Portland (Oregon) International Airport heading to Ontario (California) International Airport with 171 passengers and six crew members (177 “souls on board,” in industry jargon) when a near-disaster struck. A “plug” used on the exterior to cover an unused door blew out, creating a large hole in the side of the plane which caused an explosive decompression sucking all of the air out of the passenger cabin.

While that was probably the most frightening event any of the passengers have experienced (and hopefully ever will), it was fortunate that they had only reached roughly 16,000 feet in altitude or the outcome could have been much worse.

In the United States, the MAX 9 variant of the 737 that experienced the problem is only used by Alaska and United Airlines, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) quickly ordered both fleets grounded until appropriate inspections could be made. On the 24th, the government agency announced that it had cleared a path for the two carriers to get the aircraft back into service and both announced plans to do so within days.

However, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker announced at the same time that “this won’t be back to business as usual for Boeing… until we are satisfied that the quality control issues uncovered” are taken care of wherever they may have originated. In December 2023, all of the MAX 9s in service had already been mandated to have a targeted inspection performed for bolts that might be missing nuts in the rudder control system.

Much, if not most of the work done in constructing the MAX 9 is by Spirit AeroSystems of Wichita, Kansas, and its allegations made by former employees in a federal lawsuit are proven to be true, it might be one piece of the puzzle to build the picture of what happened. According to court documents, an unnamed employee filed a report to the company’s “EthicsPoint Hotline” in February 2022, stating that they and their team were “being asked to purposely record in accurate [sic] information” regarding defects noted during their inspections.

The employee also alleges that because of their reluctance to comply with this “unethical” order, they were stripped of their position as “team lead” in retaliation. Although they tried to follow up on the progress of their report, what was provided in the court documents paints a picture that could be interpreted as stonewalling.

While these allegations play out in court, the FAA is keeping a close watch on Boeing and it’s fleet of 737s.

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