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FAA raises concerns over engineers appointed by Boeing for airplane certification

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Boeing appointed underqualified engineers to oversee its airplane certification program, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In a letter to Boeing last week, the FAA complained that in interviews with recently appointed safety engineers from the company this summer it had found many “are not meeting FAA expectations,” according to The Seattle Times

The appointments were made to fill openings left in the company’s safety engineer ranks after Boeing offered early retirement to some of its more senior FAA-authorized personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Times reported.

At one point, more than 20 engineers from a single certification speciality left Boeing in just one week, according to an FAA safety engineer who remained anonymous because they were not authorized by the agency to speak to the Times.

The FAA’s letter noted that of 12 recent appointees tasked with dealing with safety issues, nearly 40 percent “struggled to demonstrate an understanding of FAA certification processes,” according to Reuters.

Boeing said on Wednesday that it plans to enhance the selection process for the people appointed to engineering positions, as well as for its general airplane certification standards, the Times added. 

New rules will soon require the FAA to approve and interview every engineer that is appointed. The agency will also review existing members as part of new law in response to fatal Boeing 737 MAX plane crashes that killed over 300 people, Reuters reported.

“We’re committed to ensuring the highest levels of safety and quality in all that we do, and that includes the important work of Boeing employees who are designated as authorized representatives,” Boeing said in a statement to The Hill. “We respect the FAA’s oversight role and look forward to strengthening the ODA selection process and the program overall.”

Last week, the head of the FAA, Steve Dickson, told a Senate committee that “Boeing is not the same as it was two years ago, but they have more to work to do” with regard to the 737 Max planes which crashed in 2018 and 2019.

The Department of Justice fined Boeing $2.5 billion and filed a charge of “conspiracy to defraud the United States” against the company in January.

The department said that the deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia “exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial airplane manufacturers.”

The Hill has reached out to the FAA for comment. 

Updated at 4:50 p.m.

Tags 737 MAX Boeing FAA

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