FAA proposes $19.7 M penalty on Boeing over sensors on nearly 800 aircraft

The FAA proposed a $19.7 million civil penalty on Boeing over sensors installed in 791 aircraft that hadn't been approved. Boeing said there wasn't a safety concern and has implemented changes. (Boeing)

The FAA proposed a $19.7 million civil penalty on Boeing for allegedly installing unapproved sensors on 791 aircraft between 2015 and 2019.

Boeing has 30 days to respond the enforcement action, which was announced on Friday.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s proposed penalty came on the same day that the Democratic staff of the U.S. House Transportation Committee issued a 13-page preliminary investigative report on two Boeing 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people, including eight Americans in 2018 and 2019. The staff report blamed a “culture of concealment” at Boeing about software and aircraft equipment and the FAA’s failure in oversight in certifying the 737 MAX aircraft.

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In the separate FAA action, the sensors were part of a head-up guidance system used in 618 Boeing 737 NGs and 173 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The sensors had not been tested or approved as being compatible with the guidance systems, the FAA said.

Boeing failed to follow its own Business Process Instructions and violated aviation regulations when it certified those aircraft when they were not in conformance with their type of certificate, the FAA added.

The maker of the guidance system, Rockwell Collins, has since conducted the needed tests and risk analysis and has updated the documents, the FAA said.

In a statement emailed to FierceElectronics, Boeing said it has cooperated with the FAA and implemented changes to address its concerns.

“The proposed fines and the associated findings do not involve a safety issue,” Boeing said. Instead, the FAA findings related to insufficient documentation to validate that improved parts complied with Collins certification documentation.

Boeing said it understands the importance of compliance with documentation requirements, adding, “We are committed to doing better,” Boeing said.

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