You won’t get away with it, Boeing. Don’t try.
Boeing is to be fined $3.9M USD for knowingly using faulty parts on 133 of their 737 aircraft by the FAA. These aircraft are of the MAX and Next Generation series.
What parts were faulty? According to the FAA’s press release regarding the matter, the slat tracks, located in the slat mechanism on the leading side of the wing, were to blame. The damage to these parts is from something called hydrogen embrittlement, which can occur during the plating process.
A diagram showing the slat mechanism.
These slat tracks were processed from a third party company, known as Southwest United Industries, who was responsible for plating the parts. They were delivered to Spirit Aerosystems, then supplied to Boeing. The manufacturers noted Southwest United about the faults, who then notified Spirit, who notified Boeing. Despite being made aware of the hydrogen embrittlement which was detected in the batch of slat tracks, Boeing continued to install them on Boeing 737 MAX and 737NG aircraft. FAA also claims that during the period between 10 October 2018 and 2 May 2019, Boeing knowingly certified 85 aircraft which had potentially been fitted with slat tracks from the faulty batch. The slat track issue was further complicated by the fact that Southwest United Industries failed to apply a protective coating over the identification numbers on the slat tracks themselves. This meant that it was hard to identify which slat tracks had been affected. Although the hydrogen embrittlement was not a result of manufacturing errors on Boeing’s part, the FAA alleges that Boeing failed in its duty to properly oversee the quality assurance processes of its suppliers.
What is your opinion on these facts? Do you think Boeing is plaguing with these issues, or was this just a one-time mistake?