FAA Fines Boeing For Knowingly Installing Faulty Slat Tracks


The FAA Friday proposed a $3.9 million fine against Boeing for knowingly installing non-conforming components on about 133 737s, including the troubled MAX models. In a statement, the agency said Boeing “failed to adequately oversee its suppliers to ensure they complied with the company’s quality assurance system.”

The FAA said Boeing’s QA failure resulted in the installation of slat tracks weakened by hydrogen embrittlement that occurred during cadmium-titanium plating of the parts. The FAA contends that Boeing knowingly submitted aircraft for final FAA airworthiness certification after determining that the parts didn’t meet its own strength requirements.

The FAA said the slat tracks were processed by Southwest United Industries, a Boeing third-tier supplier. After learning that Boeing certified 48 aircraft with the faulty tracks between Aug. 16, 2018, and Oct. 9, 2018, and an additional 85 aircraft during the fall of 2018 and spring of 2019, the FAA issued an AD in June 2019. It mandated inspections to identify the faulty tracks.

The agency said “identification of the defective parts was hindered because SUI did not apply a protective coating over the part identification mark that is required to be displayed on the slat tracks. As a result, those part identification marks became either obscured or invisible, making it difficult to identify the affected parts.”

Boeing has 30 days to respond to the FAA’s civil penalty proposal of $3.916 million.

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  1. I would like someone to point me to workplace/industry where this culture is not systematic and pervasive… so I may seek employment.

    It is so tragic that Wall Street and MBA groupthink has taken hold of so many of our industries and national treasures.

    So many afraid to speak up, lest they be reduced to contractor or worse.

    • You nailed it on the head. Follow the pattern and you will find the strangest CEOs and board members put into place to “streamline” operations. Ther results are declining quality, morale going down in the trenches, ROI at any cost with at times, catastrophic consequences. And then, the perpetrators are rarely revealed, walk away with bonuses and continue to be placed elsewhere. It’s gangrene. The problem is that people worship diplomas when most inventions and breakthroughs come from people without. Once that problem is resolved, it will be a healthier society. Until then, companies continue to pour millions into marketing. The trends and patterns are obvious. As an investor, watch out for that.

  2. One more reason that Boeing needs to do some serious housecleaning, starting with top management. Their too-big-to-fail attitude has led them to promote sales and stock prices above all else. Yars is right; a piddling $4 million dollar fine is not even a slap on the wrist to a corporation worth over $100 BILLION. Muilenburg pays lip service to safety, while the real message is production at all costs. They will probably fire some mid-level manager and go on down the road. This is the third design/production gaffe that has come to light in the past year. One may be an anomaly, two a serious issue, but three indicates a systemic problem that goes straight to the top.

    • What worries me, even more, is their latest statement trying to pressure the FAA to hasten the recertification process because the company will lose money. I expect a company to be well-thought-out and have reserves in place when they take gambling chances. That last statement really knocked Boeing’s image another notch when they should bend over backward doing the opposite. I’m afraid the lesson hasn’t been learned and it doesn’t look much has changed.

      Next. Kitty Hawk? 🙂

  3. If memory serves me right it was luck (an bored meccano sticking his nose where it should not have been) which led to the original crack being discovered. And it was a big crack, ready to break at any time.
    One thing is sure, if it had broken as a 737 was about to land, and the plane crashed, something entirely likely if the slats on one wing blow off suddenly, it would have been the pilots fault.

  4. Why were the parts sent out for cadmium-titanium plating?
    Oh yea, you’re not allowed do that in the States anymore.
    So a good part becomes comes back as a bad part with now invisible flaws.

  5. I started to correct you as I recalled Southwest United Industries being in Tulsa OK. Then I looked at their website, and sure enough, Tulsa is their FORMER national HQ with locations in Canada and Mexico. Three guesses where the hands on work is done. Boeing is beyond disgusting.

    • To be fair to Boeing, it’s not just them. The problem of placing profits and shareholders first above all else is systemic to probably most US companies (or at least the public ones). And it doesn’t help that Boeing is the only US commercial airline manufacturer left – a “free market economy” doesn’t work very well when the market consists of only one producer.