FAA Identifies Safety Issues in Boeing 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner

In recent developments that have further complicated the narrative for aerospace giant Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has raised concerns over safety issues pertaining to two of the company’s aircraft families

by Faruk Imamovic
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FAA Identifies Safety Issues in Boeing 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner
© Getty Images/Mathieu Lewis-Rolland

In recent developments that have further complicated the narrative for aerospace giant Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has raised concerns over safety issues pertaining to two of the company’s aircraft families: the 737 Max and the 787 Dreamliner.

These issues, specifically related to the planes' engine anti-ice systems, were highlighted in a filing by the FAA in mid-February but gained significant public attention following a report by the Seattle Times.

Unfolding Issues Amidst Recovery Efforts

Boeing, already navigating a tumultuous period following a series of mishaps and the grounding of the 737 Max, now faces additional scrutiny.

The FAA's decision to process these concerns through its standard airworthiness directive process rather than opting for emergency measures indicates a belief that, while the issues are serious, they do not necessitate immediate grounding of the affected aircraft.

This approach, however, does little to alleviate the growing concerns surrounding Boeing's commitment to safety and quality assurance. The engine anti-ice system, critical for maintaining engine performance and safety in cold, high-altitude conditions, has been identified as a potential risk factor.

For the 737 Max, the FAA has disclosed that an electrical issue could lead to a loss of thrust in both engines—a scenario that Boeing insists has never occurred in the field but was discovered through engineering analysis three years prior.

The Dreamliner, on the other hand, faces risks from a damaged seal that could lead to heat damage to an engine inlet, a concern that has prompted Boeing to initiate a redesign of the affected part.

Safety, Quality, and Accountability

The spotlight on these technical issues comes at a time when Boeing is still recovering from the aftermath of two fatal crashes involving the 737 Max, which collectively claimed 346 lives.

These tragedies, which led to a 20-month grounding of the jet, have cast a long shadow over Boeing's reputation and raised questions about the company’s safety culture and oversight. In response to these challenges, Boeing and the FAA have taken steps to address the identified risks and implement fixes.

However, the broader implications for Boeing's manufacturing practices and quality control processes remain a concern. The FAA's ongoing focus on production quality at Boeing, coupled with investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Justice Department into past incidents, underscores the critical importance of stringent safety standards and accountability within the aerospace industry.

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