(PatriotWise.com) — The new head of the Federal Aviation Administration testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday to update lawmakers on the agency’s review of manufacturing at Boeing, the Associated Press reported.
Appearing before the House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation, FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker said that while the FAA was only midway through its review, he had already determined that changes had to be made to government oversight of the aircraft manufacturer.
Whitaker told lawmakers that due to pressure from airlines to produce more planes, Boeing had not been giving enough attention to safety.
The hearing comes as Boeing 737 Max 9 planes were forced to undergo inspections after an emergency door panel blew off an Alaska Airlines flight shortly after takeoff from Portland on January 5.
Whitaker told lawmakers that following the January incident, the FAA needed to determine not only what was wrong with the aircraft but “what’s going on with the production at Boeing.”
He said Boeing has had “issues in the past” that “don’t seem to be getting resolved” and suggested that the FAA needed to have “a heightened level of oversight.”
Whitaker’s testimony comes after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary report on the January 5 blowout.
According to the NTSB, the lack of specific damage to the aircraft indicated that all four bolts were missing from the 737 Max before it took off from Portland. Without the bolts in place, nothing prevented the emergency door panel from shifting upward and detaching from the “stop pads” securing the panel to the airframe.
The report said the aircraft arrived at Boeing’s Seattle-area factory with five damaged rivets near the door panel, which had been installed by Spirit AeroSystems. In replacing the rivets, the Spirit crew had to remove the four bolts and open the panel.
Whitaker told lawmakers that he expected the FAA would keep inspectors in both the Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems factories even after the audit is complete.
He assured the subcommittee that the FAA would “take appropriate and necessary action” to keep air travelers safe.
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