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Boeing gets major fine from FAA

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Boeing gets major fine from FAA

Old 22nd Dec 2015, 22:31
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Exclamation Boeing gets major fine from FAA

FAA fines Boeing $12M for fuel tank, other violations | The Seattle Times
FAA fines Boeing $12M for fuel tank, other violations

Originally published December 22, 2015 at 9:19 am Updated December 22, 2015 at 2:11 pm
The settlement is the second largest for regulatory violations in the history of the FAA.


By JOAN LOWY
Associated Press

WASHINGTON ó Boeing has agreed to pay $12 million for failing to meet a deadline to submit service instructions that would enable airlines to reduce the risk of fuel tank explosions on hundreds of planes, among other violations, the Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday

goes on.
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Old 23rd Dec 2015, 14:44
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Let's see:

Traffic deaths kill 30K-40K per year, and a large fraction are found to involve highway design shortcomings by the government.

We have many thousands die every year for medical reasons: treatment errors. infections from a hospital environment, FDA lack of or tardy approval of lifesaving drugs, . . .

VA arrogant mismanagement of their caseload.

and way down the list - aircraft fuel tank explosion(s) that have killed - per year - a dozen or less over the last 5-6 decades.

So where does our government focus its police powers?
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Old 23rd Dec 2015, 18:33
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So where does our government focus its police powers?
On the easy targets.
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Old 23rd Dec 2015, 19:10
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So where does our government focus its police powers?
Nothing so dramatic. After all, there's no FBI agents in windbreakers, no speech from the A.G., no "perp walk", nothing but Boeing agreeing to pay a fine rather than further drag out a matter which has been ongoing since the NTSB report on the crash of TWA 800.

Boeing will be well aware that paying what amounts to fractions of a penny per share and publicly supporting "safety" initiatives is better than the alternative of a protracted fight. It gives the FAA a "win" and probably buys Boeing some "consideration" in other FAA matters.

Boeing is a business and this is not the first time a regulated business has clashed with a regulatory agency regarding regulations, directives or policy. It's a part of the business of maximizing profit in a regulated industry. Win some, lose some. Meanwhile the effect of applying regulation to both the manufacture and operation of airliners seems to have had a mostly positive effect upon the overall safety of airlines in general. Who thinks the industry would achieved what it has without regulation?

I resent overbearing government bureaucracy as much as anyone, but complete anarchy hasn't been demonstrated to work very well either. Maybe there is such a thing as the "right" amount of regulation?

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Old 30th Dec 2015, 17:47
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Boeing is a business and this is not the first time a regulated business has clashed with a regulatory agency regarding regulations, directives or policy.
This might be the case for the fuel tank issue. The FAA issued a directive. Boeing disagreed. They fought the good fight but in the end, the FAA did not back down.

The other issue, the one of incorrect fasteners, is more troubling. Here, Boeing actually identified the problem and put together an action plan to implement a remedy. But they failed to do so. It's one thing to take a stand and argue for a position. But in my time there, all too often, they just figured that they could put off the inevitable remedial action. Or worse yet, implement it, wait for the regulators to sign off on an inspection and then go back to the old way of doing business.

The basis of self certification is that when a company says they will do something, they follow through even if they aren't hapy about doing so.
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Old 30th Dec 2015, 21:32
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Having worked within self-certification systems albeit in a different Industry the one think I can say is that self-certification only works if the leadership and guiding mind(s) within the Organisation are committed to it.

When profit and or especially salary is related to performance then the relevant documentation will always exist in the system. I have known this to happen when overloaded Managers did not have sufficient time to exercise due diligence and documents were signed and submitted to confirm that those checks HAD been undertaken. This was to maintain performance levels against which the Managers and their future career opportunities were measured.

Only truly independent audit, with auditors paid bonuses for finding failures will resolve the situation.

Sorry if this appears cynical, but its called experience and old age.
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Old 1st Jan 2016, 01:12
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If self regulation worked God would have given Moses 10 guidelines
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Old 1st Jan 2016, 11:44
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Again and again and again and again, the managements of self-regulated industries demonstrate that their personal and corporate financial priorities will invariably over-ride effective and committed compliance with the safety regulations set out for their industry.

This applies equally to things other than safety; the list is endless. Banks, the Press, whatever; self-regulation simply allows them to do what they like unless and until the consequences are so disastrous that their Government sets up an effective enforcement system, usually against a wall of outraged objections and dire warnings of unforeseen consequences from the industry concerned.

The only effective tool that a Government possesses to ensure compliance, even with a regulator in place, is lengthy and unpleasant jail sentences for the Directors and Managements of miscreant businesses, especially when they cause death or injury to, or otherwise seriously harm the public.

And that's where most countries fail; certainly in the UK it seems that Directors and managements can always escape the justice they deserve unless they are a small and easy target. So Gerald Corbett still walks free, as do a large number of crooked and fraudulent bank directors who were trusted to "self-regulate" as they pinned on their knighthoods. And as a consequence, for example, the Directors of the UK's rail companies still neither know about nor feel responsible for their companies' safety management, and our financial industry carries on exactly as before, in spite of the regular, even routine, exposure of scandalous and criminal wrong-doing as a continuous modus operandi.

They do this by throwing junior staff to the wolves, and if necessary suddenly finding they have a form of terminal disease that cures itself miraculously after a year or two, but makes them "unfit for trial" at them time they are charged.
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Old 2nd Jan 2016, 18:40
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Capot:
the list is endless. Banks, the Press, whatever; self-regulation simply allows them to do what they like unless. . .
Let us not forget government's own dalliances: IRS, the VA administration, the Chicago / New York / Detroit / Baltimore scene - need I go on? If government cannot regulate itself, how can it regulate us?
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Old 2nd Jan 2016, 19:51
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Boeing should send a letter to the FAA recommending all of their aircraft that do not have inerting tanks be grounded ASAP, play hardball with a government agency looking for nothing more than another form of taxation.
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Old 2nd Jan 2016, 23:06
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inerting tanks

So which passenger aircraft are currently using inerting fuel tanks.
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Old 3rd Jan 2016, 01:17
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In July 1996 fuel vapour exploded in the centre wing tank (CWT) of a Boeing 747 operating TWA Flight 800. All 230 on board died.
Almost 20 years later, on 22 December 2015 Boeing agreed to pay an administrative penalty of $US12 million, mainly for tardiness in addressing the underlying causes of the TWA 800 accident. The penalty also covers Boeing use of faulty fasteners on the 777 and 11 other unspecified compliance failures. See Press Release ? Boeing Agrees to Pay $12 Million and Enhance its Compliance Systems to Settle Enforcement Cases.
Such corporate contempt for regulations should attract as much opprobrium as the Volkswagen emissions scandal. Instead it was buried in a media release from the Federal Aviation Administration immediately before Christmas.
Letís recap.
National Transportation Safety Board concluded that probable cause of the CWT explosion on TWA 800 was ignition of a flammable fuel/air mixture in the tank, by a short circuit outside of the tank that allowed excessive voltage to enter CWT through electrical wiring associated with the fuel quantity indication system.
NTSB also criticized the design and certification of the Boeing 747 based on a fallacy, that fuel tank explosions could be prevented solely by precluding all ignition sources. Furthermore NTSB suggested it was wrong to design and certificated the plane with heat transfer sources from air conditioning packs immediately beneath the CWT, which rendered tank vapours much more hazardous.
Following the NTSB investigation FAA progressively issued 283 directives to minimise the risk of ignition in and around aircraft fuel tanks, and in 2008 published the Fuel Tank Flammability Rule, which required manufacturers to develop design changes and service instructions for installing systems to further reduce fuel tank flammability.
Boeing (and Airbus) had until December 2010, to comply. In July 2012 FAA proposed a civil penalty of $13.57 million against Boeing Company for failing to meet the deadline for more than 380 planes. See Press Release ? FAA Proposes $13.57 Million Civil Penality Against Boeing Company
Itís taken another three years for FAA to actually take action against Boeing. Safety may be paramount but it clearly isnít urgent.
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Old 3rd Jan 2016, 05:37
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Safety may be paramount but it clearly isn’t urgent.
Interesting excerpt from FAA's official statement:

"The agreement settles two initiated cases and 11 other matters that were opened during the last several years. ...
The FAA did not allege that these issues created unsafe conditions."
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Old 3rd Jan 2016, 11:42
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...that allowed excessive voltage to enter CWT through electrical wiring associated with the fuel quantity indication system.
There's a key word missing here, and it's not pedantry to highlight it; that sentence should read "...that allowed excessive voltage to enter CWT through faulty electrical wiring associated with the fuel quantity indication system.."

It's important because that takes us into the area of EWIS, and ageing EWIS in particular. It is arguable that the root cause of TWA 800 was deteriorated insulation in the loom that carried the FQIS wiring and the high voltage wiring to No 4 engine. (The probable condition of the sensor(s) was a contributory factor.)

I often wonder why manufacturers were ever allowed to place electrically driven equipment into fuel tanks; fuel quantity can be measured mechanically, and I have no doubt whatsoever that the assembled brainpower of the manufacturers in the 60s/70s and beyond could have devised a system that is at least as accurate as the electrical/electronic sensors they used, and continue to use now, if legislation had forced them to.

The problem of ageing EWIS goes far beyond Fuel Tank Safety, of course, and I cannot help feeling that EASA's AMC 20-21/22/23, and the equivalents around the globe, achieves very little in terms of real, substantial reduction of the hazard caused by ageing EWIS, let alone its elimination.

Removing the combustible content of fuel tanks, rather than seeking unsuccessfully to make ignition impossible rather than unlikely, will eventually eliminate the risk of fuel tank explosion. Speeding up that process requires major modification of aircraft that may still have 20 years of life, and no Government has the balls to demand it.

Effective measures to reduce the risk of a catastrophic failure resulting from EWIS failure (ie insulation failure in EWIS) will probably have to wait until the catastrophic failure occurs in the USA or to an FAA-registered airliner, rather as the effective measures to prevent fuel tank ignition had to wait until TWA 800 exploded, after - as I recall - 16 or 17 fuel tank ignition events had occurred around the world in the preceding decades. Or something like that; memory is fickle.

Last edited by Capot; 3rd Jan 2016 at 12:01.
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Old 3rd Jan 2016, 22:14
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So which passenger aircraft are currently using inerting fuel tanks.
I can speak for newer 767 and 777 aircraft, I believe everything commercial that has come out of Boeing and is N registered for close to the last 10 years has a nitrogen generating system installed.
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Old 5th Jan 2016, 09:36
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Jack11111: According to Aviation Week affected types are 737, 747, 757, 767, 777, A320, and A330. See Biggest News In Boeing Fuel Tank Rule Fine Story: Expect Extensions | Turnaround Time.
Peekay4: Iíd have enjoyed hearing the lawyers wrangle over the caveat that ďFAA did not allege that these issues created unsafe conditions." Itís true; at least as far as fuel tank flammability is concerned. What goes unsaid is that Boeing tardiness prolonged unsafe conditions that had existed for 50 years and destroyed at least four planes.
Capot: Correction noted. Itís not pedantry and I agree with everything you wrote at #14
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Old 21st Jan 2016, 18:04
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Boeing should send a letter to the FAA recommending all of their aircraft that do not have inerting tanks be grounded ASAP
So, is all the engineering done and the retrofit kits ready to go? If not, Boeing's customers have a case for suing them for delaying the needed fix. Even if the fix is ready to go, putting your airline customers in that kind of position (even if it was their fault the fix was not implemented) isn't good for customer relations.
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Old 21st Jan 2016, 18:18
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Removing the combustible content of fuel tanks, rather than seeking unsuccessfully to make ignition impossible rather than unlikely, will eventually eliminate the risk of fuel tank explosion.
OK, so once you've taken the fuel out of the tanks where are you going to put it?

Or did you mean "ignition sources" rather than "combustible content"?

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Old 21st Jan 2016, 18:18
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By early 1999, Boeing addressed the situation, at least partially, with regards to "senior airframe versions" when they introduced a "Transient Suppression Unit", which was designed to safely divert sporadic voltage spikes through a capacitive discharge to ground. The design also included provisions meant to address the Kapton situation. Was this ever implemented?
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Old 22nd Jan 2016, 04:01
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FWIW Canberra Times published my account of the whole sorry saga at Aviation safety and the long saga of TWA flight 800.
Thereís a human interest back-story for someone else to write - ďHow Lyn Romano Made Air Travel Safer for Us AllĒ. Lynís husband died on Swissair 111. She and influential families of other victims saw that the accident was largely due to lax rules and a too cosy relationship between the airline industry and its regulators. Lyn used her insurance settlement to establish and fund the International Aviation Safety Association. It lobbied in US, UK and Europe for tougher rules especially for aircraft wiring and flammability. See International Aviation Safety Assn & 8 years after SR-111.
Progress has been slow and patchy but would not have happened without Lyn.
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