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FAA discovers more faults with Boeing planes, issues new safety guidelines

Click to play video: '‘Lack of awareness’ of safety guidelines at Boeing: FAA report'
‘Lack of awareness’ of safety guidelines at Boeing: FAA report
After a series of high-profile incidents, an FAA panel says it couldn't find evidence Boeing has a 'foundational commitment to safety' matching the company's stated goals. Global's Nathaniel Dove reports – Feb 27, 2024

The Federal Aviation Administration will require more safety measures from Boeing after learning of potential faults on several planes, one which could potentially affect the 737 MAX 9, the model from which a door plug blew off in January, and another that has caused minor damage to 787 Dreamliner engines.

Several FAA reports into the concerns about the anti-icing system and the Dreamliner engine were first published in mid-February shortly before another major FAA report into Boeing’s safety record was released that garnered global headlines. The Seattle Times first reported on the reports into the anti-icing system and the Dreamliner engine on Friday, and other outlets have since followed suit.

The first safety concern the FAA identified could shut off anti-ice systems on both engines for Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9 craft stemming from a potential single point of failure.

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“The unsafe condition” the FAA document states, “if not addressed, could result in loss of thrust on both engines due to damage from operation in icing conditions without (the anti-icing systems) and can result in loss of continued safe flight and landing.”

The agency states the unsafe condition is likely to exist or develop on other products of the same design.

The second safety measure targets the engines of the 787 Dreamliner series.

The FAA review states the new directive was prompted by a report of heat damage on multiple engine inlets around the engine anti-ice duct, which could cause damage around the duct.

Click to play video: 'Documents shed light on Canada’s 2019 move to ground the Boeing MAX-8'
Documents shed light on Canada’s 2019 move to ground the Boeing MAX-8

The damage could result in “reduced structural strength” and the inlet falling from the plane, “resulting in subsequent loss of continued safe flight and landing or injury to occupants from a departed inlet contacting the airplane.”

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The findings add to the list of safety concerns for the plane maker, including loose bolts on the 737 MAX 9, the agency grounding (and then allowing to fly again) the 737 MAX 9s and the FAA head telling a congressional committee the company’s oversight system is “not working.”

Those come on top of the years-long global grounding of Boeing’s MAX 8 line after two deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019.

Separately, the FAA head told Boeing officials last week that the company must develop a comprehensive action plan to address its “systemic quality-control issues” within 90 days, according to an FAA statement, after one of the agency’s investigations into the company found that it suffers from a “lack of awareness” of safety guidelines.

The FAA is continuing to investigate Boeing’s manufacturing processes and production lines while the National Transportation Safety Board, another U.S. federal agency, is investigating the Alaska Airlines flight from which the door plug blew off.

Late last week the company said it had reached a settlement with the U.S. government worth nearly $70 million for numerous export violations, including Chinese employees in China improperly downloading documents related to U.S. Defense Department programs.

The State Department said from 2013 through 2017 three Chinese employees at Boeing facilities in China downloaded technical data involving programs including the F-18, F-15 and F-22 fighter jets, the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and the AGM84E cruise missile. It also said the company engaged in some unauthorized exports of defence material and technical data to Israel, Turkey and Lebanon.

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Boeing said there were additional unauthorized downloads of technical data at Boeing and partner facilities in 18 countries, including Germany, France and Canada, from 2013 to 2018 and said in a statement that it is “committed to our trade controls obligations.”

Click to play video: 'Documents shed light on Canada’s 2019 move to ground the Boeing MAX-8'
Documents shed light on Canada’s 2019 move to ground the Boeing MAX-8

The turmoil since the mid-air door panel blowout has caused the company to delay its plans to increase 737 production, two sources told Reuters, as the company deals with more regulatory curbs and increased scrutiny.

It is also exploring whether it should re-acquire Spirit Aerosystems, a subcontractor that was once part of Boeing and that made the door plug that fell from the Alaska Airlines plane, as the Wall Street Journal first reported on Friday.

A senior industry source told Reuters Boeing buying the subcontractor could help lower production costs.

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In a statement to Reuters, Boeing said the 737 anti-ice issue “is a remote concern that has never been seen during decades of service” and said neither issue “is an immediate safety-of-flight concern based on extensive engineering analysis.”

— with files from Global News’ Aaron D’Andrea, Sean Boynton and Eric Stober, and Reuters’ Valerie Insinna, Tim Hepher, Abhijith Ganapavaram, Allison Lampert and David Shepardson

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