Category Archives: FAA

Boeing’s statement on U.S. Federal Aviation Administration settlement

Boeing (Chicago, Seattle and Charleston) issued the following statement following the settlement announcement by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration:

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Boeing appreciates the dedication of both the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing personnel who worked to reach the agreement announced on December 22. This agreement reflects Boeing’s deep and shared commitment to safety, quality and compliance – a commitment that has helped make travel on large commercial airplanes the safest means of transportation in history.

Boeing believes that this agreement not only fairly resolves announced and potential civil penalty actions – most of which date back years, and two of which were previously announced in 2012 and 2013 – but also will further enhance Boeing’s self-correcting quality and compliance systems. Under the terms of the agreement, Boeing has agreed to pay $12 million and make additional quality and compliance process improvements. Many of the improvements listed in the agreement have already been implemented or are in the process of implementation.

As a company we take responsibility for our actions, and we will never compromise on our commitment to quality and compliance – a commitment that is one of the core reasons we build the best airplanes in the world. We are actively working on the areas identified in the agreement and see this as another way to continually improve our compliance system.

Previously the FAA issued this statement on December 22:

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration today announced a comprehensive settlement agreement with Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) that resolves multiple pending and potential enforcement cases.

Under the agreement, BCA pledged to implement and improve several certification processes to further enhance the airworthiness and continued compliance of all BCA products.

“It is imperative that everyone complies with our aviation system’s high safety standards,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This agreement is an important step toward ensuring that Boeing fully meets all applicable compliance standards going forward.”

“Compliance requires all certificate holders to develop and implement internal controls that ensure they’re operating according to the highest standards,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “Boeing has agreed to implement improvements in its design, planning, production and maintenance planning processes, and has already implemented several of these improvements.”

BCA’s obligations commit the company to meeting specific performance targets. They are designed to enhance BCA’s early discovery and self-disclosure of potential regulatory compliance problems, as well as the timely development and implementation of effective corrective actions.

The company also must make an immediate payment to the United States Treasury in the amount of $12 million and faces stiff penalties for failing to follow through on its commitments.

BCA’s obligations include:

Improved Management Oversight and Accountability

  • Implement the Safety Management Systems (SMS) plan BCA has developed to meet internationally accepted standards, throughout the company’s activities.
  • Use the FAA’s safety analysis modeling, in addition to BCA’s proprietary risk modeling, to assess all identified compliance issues.
  • Comply with a new Regulatory Compliance Plan, which requires BCA to assign each compliance matter to a manager-level employee for resolution and accountability.
  • Require review of the regulatory compliance performance of BCA managers.

Internal Auditing

  • To improve its internal audit processes, audit teams will be required to report directly to BCA’s Vice President of Quality, and conduct audits across all processes (Engineering, Supplier Management, Production, Modification, Repair and Customer Support) at all sites.
  • Assess the effectiveness of its internal auditing systems.
  • Appoint audit team members with appropriate technical expertise to assess the extent of regulatory compliance.
  • Conduct an evaluation of regulatory compliance procedures among different facilities and programs.
  • Implement risk-based criteria for selecting the subjects of audits.

Enhanced Supplier Management

  • To determine whether incomplete work is being accepted, conduct an initial set of audits of its suppliers, analyze the results and consult with the FAA on audit findings.
  • Based upon risk analysis, conduct a second, more extensive set of audits, again reporting the results to the FAA and providing the FAA with a summary of any corrective actions.

Quality and Timeliness Regulatory Submissions

  • Meet progressively more stringent performance metrics in the quality and timeliness of its written submissions to the FAA.

Specification Simplification

  • Annually for the next five years, review and simplify at least 15 process specifications used in the design, build, delivery and support of BCA products.

First-Article Verification

  • Implement improvements to processes to ensure that assembly installations that have been affected by process or design changes continue to conform to type design.

Stampings and Other Verification Records Accuracy

  • Conduct mandatory training of all manufacturing and quality employees who exercise stamping approval authority, and conduct recurrent training at least every 24 months.
  • Conduct mandatory training of all engineering employees on their regulatory compliance obligations.
  • During each year of the agreement, conduct at least three internal audits of each product line and at least one audit of each BCA fabrication site.
  • Prevent any repeat findings of improper stamping.

Corrective Action Development, Implementation and Sustainment

  • Apply the “Boeing Problem-Solving Model” to a wide variety of analyses that BCA submits to the FAA.
  • For future violations that the FAA identifies, conduct a second, follow-up audit within 12 months of the original incident to ensure that corrective actions were effective at the time and continue to be effective.

BCA’s Reporting Obligations

  • Report to the FAA at least annually about the effectiveness of BCA’s regulatory compliance activities, including a final and comprehensive report after the fifth year of the agreement.
  • Report to the FAA each quarter the results of any internal audits pertaining to safety management, regulatory compliance, corrective action implementation and sustainment, process compliance and conforming products.

BCA will face up to $24 million in additional penalties over the next five years if it fails to implement its obligations under the agreement.

The performance period for BCA’s commitments begins Jan. 1, 2016 and will continue for five years unless the FAA and BCA agree to an extension.

The agreement settles two initiated cases and 11 other matters that were opened during the last several years.

The first initiated case involved BCA’s tardiness in developing information for the installation of fuel tank flammability reduction equipment on Boeing 747 and 757 aircraft.

The second initiated case involved the company’s insufficient corrective action after discovering that a supplier had been providing incorrectly shaped fasteners. The FAA did not allege that these issues created unsafe conditions.

The uninitiated matters involved allegations of delays in submitting required safety information, production quality control problems, and failures to implement corrective actions for those production problems.

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The FAA issues an AD for possible Boeing 747-8 and 747-8F “divergent flutter during a high g-load maneuver in combination with certain system failures”

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (Washington) has issued this airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Boeing 747-8 and 747-8F series aircraft. The FAA estimates there are eight aircraft impacted on the U.S. registry.

According to Boeing, all of the costs of this AD may be covered under warranty, thereby reducing the cost impact on affected individuals.

Here is the statement:

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We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain The Boeing Company Model 747-8 and 747-8F series airplanes. This AD was prompted by an analysis, which indicated that in a limited flight envelope with specific conditions, divergent flutter could occur during a high g-load maneuver in combination with certain system failures. This AD requires replacing the lateral control electronic (LCE) modules, replacing the inboard elevator power control packages (PCPs), installing new external compensators for the PCPs, and revising the maintenance or inspection program. We are issuing this AD to prevent certain system failures from resulting in divergent flutter, and subsequent loss of continued safe flight and landing.

Read the full AD: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Nick Dean/AirlinersGallery.com.

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The new Airbus A350-900 receives its FAA Type Certificate

Airbus (Toulouse) has announced the new A350-900 received its Type Certification on November 12 from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (Washington).

FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Peggy Gilligan and Airbus Group Inc. Chairman Allan McArtor were among the signing authorities at the official ceremony. The certified aircraft is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. This milestone follows the A350-900 Type Certification awarded by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on September 30.

According to Airbus, “The A350-900’s respective FAA and EASA certification awards come after Airbus successfully finished a stringent program of certification trials which took the A350-900 airframe and systems well beyond their design limits to ensure all airworthiness criteria are fully met. The fleet of five test A350-900 aircraft completed the certification flight test campaign, on time, having accumulated more than 2,600 flight test hours to create and successfully achieve one of the aviation industry’s most thorough and efficient test programs ever developed for a commercial airliner.”

Copyright Photo: Antony J. Best/AirlinersGallery.com. One of the five test aircraft, the pictured A350-941 F-WZNW (msn 004), wears partial Qatar Airways markings at Farnborough where it was showcased. Qatar Airways will be the first airline to take delivery of the new type.

Qatar Airways aircraft slide show: AG Slide Show

Chicago area flights are halted after a fire at the FAA facility in Aurora, Illinois, at least 850 flights cancelled so far

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Air traffic in the United States today is being affected by a fire in the FAA air traffic control facility in Aurora, Illinois. Flights were halted at both O’Hare and Midway airports affecting hundreds of flights and thousands of passengers. The ripple affect will affect the entire country and some international flights.

Read the full report from CNN: CLICK HERE

According to ABC Channel 7 the fire was set by a contract employee quoting Chief Greg Thomas.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

O’Hare International Airport (ORD) is reporting it is still in a ground stop:

ORD currently still in ground stop. Airlines are reporting 700+ cancellations. Please check with airline for flight status. Updates to follow.

Midway International Airport (MDW) is also reporting it is in a ground stop with Southwest Airlines canceling all flights until at least 7 pm tonight:

MDW is still currently in a ground stop. Airlines are reporting 150+ cancellations. All @SouthwestAirlines flights are suspended until 7 pm.

FAA proposes a $12 million civil penalty against Southwest Airlines, Southwest has 30 days to respond

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (Washington) has issued this statement concerning Boeing 737 maintenance issues by Southwest Airlines (Dallas) and a contractor:

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $12 million civil penalty against Southwest Airlines for failing to comply with Federal Aviation Regulations in three separate enforcement cases related to repairs on Boeing 737 jetliners operated by the Dallas-based airline.

The FAA alleges that beginning in 2006, Southwest conducted so-called “extreme makeover” alterations to eliminate potential cracking of the aluminum skin on 44 jetliners. The FAA conducted an investigation that included both the airline and its contractor, Aviation Technical Services, Inc., (ATS) of Everett, Wash. Investigators determined that ATS failed to follow proper procedures for replacing the fuselage skins on these aircraft. FAA investigators also determined that ATS failed to follow required procedures for placing the airplanes on jacks and stabilizing them. All of the work was done under the supervision of Southwest Airlines, which was responsible for ensuring that procedures were properly followed.

Southwest returned the jetliners to service and operated them when they were not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations, the FAA alleges. The regulatory violations charged involve numerous flights that occurred in 2009 after the FAA put the airline on notice that these aircraft were not in compliance with either FAA Airworthiness Directives or alternate, FAA-approved methods of complying with the directives. The FAA later approved the repairs after the airline provided proper documentation that the repairs met safety standards

“Safety is our top priority, and that means holding airlines responsible for the repairs their contractors undertake,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Everyone has a role to play and a responsibility to ensure the safety of our transportation system.”

During its investigation, the FAA found that ATS workers applied sealant beneath the new skin panels but did not install fasteners in all of the rivet holes during the timeframe for the sealant to be effective. This could have resulted in gaps between the skin and the surface to which it was being mounted. Such gaps could allow moisture to penetrate the skin and lead to corrosion. As a result of the improper repairs, these airplanes did not comply with Federal Aviation Regulations.

The FAA also alleges that ATS personnel failed to follow requirements to properly place these airplanes on jacks and shore them up while the work was being performed. If a plane is shored improperly during skin replacement, the airframe could shift and lead to subsequent problems with the new skin.

In the third case, the FAA alleges that Southwest Airlines failed to properly install a ground wire on water drain masts on two of its Boeing 737s in response to an FAA Airworthiness Directive addressing lightning strikes on these components. As a result, the aircraft were not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations. The airplanes were each operated on more than 20 passenger flights after Southwest Airlines became aware of the discrepancies but before the airline corrected the problem.

“The FAA views maintenance very seriously, and it will not hesitate to take action against companies that fail to follow regulations,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

Southwest Airlines has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s Civil Penalty letter to respond to the allegations.

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-3H4 N363SW (msn 26574) prepares to land at Baltimore/Washington (BWI).

Southwest Airlines:

Where not to fly?

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With the shoot down and crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 that was traveling at 33,000 feet over eastern Ukraine on a long range flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, many international passengers are now wondering where not to fly when they travel on long range international flights. The amount of international conflict areas, i. e. war zones, is increasing. Of course, the introduction of sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons is now a major concern in some of these conflict areas.

Do you know where your flight is being routed, especially between Europe and Asia?

For guidance, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has advised U. S. carriers to not fly in these dangerous areas. The Washington Post has produced this excellent map and report on the most dangerous overflight areas in the world.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

The Boeing 787 is granted extended 330 minutes ETOPS operations by the FAA

Boeing (Chicago and Seattle) has released this statement about extended ETOPS for the 787:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved additional extended operations (ETOPS) for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The move will allow 787s to be operated up to 330 minutes from a landing field and signals continued confidence in the airplane’s technical capabilities.

Dreamliners have been allowed to operate up to 180 minutes away from a landing field since they were introduced into service in 2011. Granting of the expanded operational permission will allow airlines to introduce additional routes after they meet the proof of capabilities requirements and receive approval from their own regulatory agencies for such operations.

ETOPS operations will make the 787 even more efficient in operations as they enable more direct flight paths, which can save thousands of pounds of fuel and reduce carbon emissions.

More than 1,030 787s have been ordered by 60 customers to date. Boeing has delivered 146 Dreamliners to 19 customers.

Copyright Photo: Steve Bailey/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 787-8 VT-ANC (msn 36274) in Air India colors lands at Boeing’s facility at Paine Field near Everett, Washington. VT-ANC is one of the earlier models and remains undelivered.

Air India: AG Slide Show