US FAA proposes $3.5m quality control fine on Boeing

US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was proposing a US$2.75 million (S$3.5 million) fine for Boeing's commercial airplane division for failing to take prompt action to fix a problem with fasteners discovered in 2008 on its model 777 airp
US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was proposing a US$2.75 million (S$3.5 million) fine for Boeing's commercial airplane division for failing to take prompt action to fix a problem with fasteners discovered in 2008 on its model 777 airplanes. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States (US) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday said it was proposing a US$2.75 million (S$3.5 million) fine for Boeing's commercial airplane division for failing to take prompt action to fix a problem with fasteners discovered in 2008 on its model 777 airplanes.

"Safety is our top priority and a robust quality control system is a vital part of maintaining the world's safest air transportation system," US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement announcing the action.

"Airplane manufacturers must take prompt and thorough steps to correct safety and compliance problems once they become aware of them," Mr Foxx said.

Boeing said it took corrective action and closed the matter in November 2010 and is working with the FAA to "understand and address any remaining concerns."

Boeing said its actions included greater management oversight, a database for tracking issues and regular meetings with the FAA to ensure any open cases were closed on time.

The action came as Boeing's 787 Dreamliner aircraft has suffered a spate of mishaps in recent weeks, including a spontaneous fire on an Ethiopian Airlines-owned 787 that was parked at a remote stand at London's Heathrow Airport.

In January, regulators grounded the global fleet of 50 Dreamliners after batteries burned on two jets within two weeks.

The planes were allowed back in the air in April after Boeing redesigned the battery system.

The FAA said Boeing discovered in September 2008 it had been installing non-conforming fasteners on its 777 airplanes, but then took more than two years to implement a plan to correct the problem.

Although Boeing had stopped using the non-conforming fasteners after the problem was discovered, some of the underlying manufacturing issues continued to exist until after the corrective action plan was in place, the agency said.

"Manufacturers must make it a priority to identify and correct quality problems in a timely manner," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in the statement.

The FAA said the company has 30 days to respond to the agency's letter detailing the proposed fine.