FAA: Boeing's 787 found safe but improvements still needed

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- After the lithium batteries used on Boeing 787s caught fire last January, the aviation giant teamed up with the Federal Aviation Administration to review how they could make their planes safer.

The resulting report was released Wednesday and states that the FAA/Boeing team found the aircraft "was soundly designed, met its intended safety level, and that the manufacturer and the FAA had effective processes in place to identify and correct issues that emerged before and after certification."

"After the first Boeing 787 battery incident last year, I called for a comprehensive review of the entire design, manufacture and assembly process for the aircraft as well as a critical look at our own oversight," said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta. "The review team identified some problems with the manufacturing process and the way we oversee it, and we are moving quickly to address those problems."

The review team traveled to Boeing facilities in the U.S. and abroad, and found issues in the manufacturing and supplier quality areas that prompted four recommendations for Boeing to address.

  • Continue to implement and mature gated design and production processes
  • Ensure suppliers are fully aware of their responsibilities
  • Establish a way to ensure suppliers identify realistic program risks
  • Require its suppliers to follow industry standards for personnel performing Boeing-required inspections.

The team also found improvements the FAA could make.

  • Revise its order on certificate management of manufacturers to recognize new aircraft manufacturing business models
  • Revise its order on production approval procedures to more fully address complex, large-scale manufacturers with extended supply chains
  • Revise other orders to ensure engineering conformity inspections for all projects are based on risk.

FAA officials said they are already addressing the issues by "revising internal policies and procedures for manufacturing oversight."

  • Use risk tools to ensure manufacturing surveillance is conducted at the highest risk facilities
  • Assess risks related to emerging technologies, complex manufacturing processes and supply chain management
  • Make engineering conformity determinations using standardized, risk-based criteria

FAA manufacturing inspectors will also expand their review of production for suppliers, including those located outside the United States.

The FAA also is working on a rule to strengthen the supplier reporting process for quality issues at all tiers of the supply chain.

To see the full report, click here.


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