Boeing To Pay $6.6m To FAA; CEO Asked To Testify In Crash Litigation; American Airlines 737 MAX Declares Emergency After Engine Shutdown
Boeing Co has agreed to pay $6.6 million in penalties to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after US regulators said that it failed to comply with a 2015 safety agreement and cited other safety concerns.
The penalties include $5.4 million for not complying with the agreement in which it pledged to change its internal processes to improve and prioritise regulatory compliance and $1.21 million to settle two pending FAA enforcement cases.
The largest US plane maker's safety record has been under scrutiny after 346 people died in two fatal 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 prompting the plane's 20-month grounding. In the aftermath, new questions emerged about its safety practices.
"Boeing failed to meet all of its obligations under the settlement agreement, and the FAA is holding Boeing accountable by imposing additional penalties," FAA administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement. "I have reiterated to Boeing’s leadership time and again that the company must prioritize safety and regulatory compliance."
Boeing, which paid $12 million in 2015 to resolve allegations in 13 FAA enforcement reports over a six-year period, said that it believes that "the announcement today fairly resolves previously-announced civil penalty actions while accounting for ongoing safety, quality and compliance process improvements."
The new settlement covers FAA allegations that Boeing managers exerted undue pressure on Boeing workers performing certification duties for the FAA at the company's South Carolina plant. The FAA also alleged that Boeing "failed to follow its quality control processes" and "interfered with an airworthiness inspection of a Boeing 787-9."
An inspector general's office report said that the FAA must take additional actions to address the "concerns of undue pressure" on Boeing workers performing federal duties.
The FAA has issued other civil penalties against Boeing in recent years, including $9.3 million for failing to prevent the installation of defective parts on 737 MAX and 737 NG planes.
In January, Boeing reached a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department over the 737 MAX crashes, including a $243.6 million fine. The Justice Department said that "Boeing's employees chose the path of profit over candor."
Boeing CEO Asked To Testify In Crash Litigation
Relatives of victims of the Boeing Co 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia that occurred five months after the Indonesian Lion Air disaster are stepping up pressure on the American plane maker and the federal government, according to a court filing and a letter to US lawmakers.
Families have called for testimony from Boeing chief executive Dave Calhoun, his predecessor and other current and former employees as part of their legal case in Chicago, court documents show.
Separately, the families urged lawmakers in letter to demand that the FAA turn over internal e-mails and documents spanning the Lion Air crash and one month after the Ethiopian crash.
The letter was sent to members of the House and Senate transportation committees, including committee head Representative Peter DeFazio and aviation subcommittee chair Representative Rick Larsen.
A Congressional official said, "I can confirm that this week Chairs DeFazio and Larsen re-upped their request to DOT (Department of Transportation) for FAA records that have gone unfulfilled to date."
A Senate report in December detailed lapses in aviation safety oversight and failed leadership in the FAA. It found that FAA leaders obstructed that report as well as a DOT watchdog review of the regulator's oversight, the results of which were released in February.
"There is serious unfinished business," the families said in the letter, reviewed by Reuters.
Boeing has mostly settled civil litigation stemming from the Lion Air crash, but still faces over 100 lawsuits in Chicago federal court related to the second crash.
The plaintiffs' lawyers are focussing on what Boeing knew about the causes of the first crash and why the plane continued to fly. They want to schedule depositions of Calhoun and Muilenburg between May 3 and June 18.
Those victims' families also want to know what FAA management, which in November lifted a 20-month safety ban of the MAX, understood about the first crash.
Boeing's board faces a separate investor lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court, where a complaint unsealed in February alleged breach of fiduciary duties and gross negligence by failing "to monitor the safety of Boeing's 737 MAX airplanes."
American Air 737 MAX Declares Emergency After Engine Shutdown; Lands Safely
American Airlines Co has said that on Friday March 5 a Boeing 737 MAX bound for New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport declared an emergency after the captain shut down one engine over a possible mechanical issue.
American's Flight 2555 from Miami with 95 passengers and six crew landed safely at Newark without incident, the airline said.
The possible issue was related to an engine oil pressure or volume indicator and not the result of anything related to the MCAS system linked to two fatal 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 that prompted the plane's 20-month grounding, it said.
Boeing Co said that it is aware of the American flight and the FAA said that it will investigate.
American was the first US carrier to resume 737 MAX flights late last year following the FAA's approval of safety updates by Boeing.
When it cleared the plane to fly again, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said that he was confident that the jet was safe but warned that in-flight mechanical problems occasionally occur with all commercial aircraft.
"For that reason, it is inevitable that at some time in the future, a Boeing 737 MAX will turn back to its originating airport, divert, or land at its destination with an actual or suspected in-flight problem," he said.
The FAA evaluates all events involving a US airline, he said at the time, adding, "It’s very important to differentiate between these routine events that happen with any aircraft and the acute safety issues that led to the loss of lives and grounding of the MAX."
American took delivery from Boeing of the jet involved in Friday March 5's incident on December 30, 2020, according to information on FlightAware.