FAA Admits Fatal Boeing Shortcuts After Skipping Safety Inspections

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker formally admitted they were too focused on overseeing paperwork.

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker formally admitted something that whistleblowers have been dying to tell the public for years. He sheepishly acknowledged that the bloated and inefficient bureaucracy he oversees “was too focused on overseeing paperwork produced by Boeing instead of performing its own inspections.” It seems that his boss, Pete Buttigieg, was too busy mothering his newborn twins to do any real oversight. The Department of Crumbling Infrastructure basically allowed Boeing to regulate themselves.

FAA dropped the ball

Under intense Senate Grilling on Thursday, June 13, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker caved in and admitted the truth. “We should have had a better handle on what was going on,” he testified.

Reporters cornered him for all the gory details the moment he stepped out from a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on his department’s oversight of the troubled aircraft manufacturer.

Whitaker described the “light touch” FAA caressed Boeing with as being “too focused on paperwork audits and not focused enough on inspections.” He also did his best to assure angry Senators that the department has “changed that approach over the last several months.

That would be about when someone forgot to tighten down the bolts on a crucial window panel. Thankfully, nobody on the involved Alaska Airlines flight was seriously injured. One toddler did come real close to being sucked right out of his mother’s arms at several thousand feet, though.

The changes FAA made are permanent,” Whitaker promises. However, this isn’t the first time they’ve been accused of the same infraction and made the same promise.

As left-leaning Politico points out, that the department “was too focused on overseeing paperwork produced by Boeing instead of performing its own inspections echoes critiques leveled in 2019, after two 737 MAX 8 planes crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Pete Buttigieg was too busy mothering his newborn twins to do any real oversight.

Not meeting standards

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell chaired the hearing with an iron gavel. When her turn came to interrogate the witness, she fired up the blowtorch by mentioning an issue we’ve been covering for years. Procedures and products that don’t meet FAA standards. Whistleblower Charles Shi, who was a supply chain manager for Boeing subcontractor Moog, provided us with exclusive evidence he turned over to the department nearly a decade ago on “half baked” parts.

He worked for a branch of the American company in Shanghai, China, and alerted authorities that he discovered “safety critical” parts, for every Boeing 737 in the air, which were being improperly manufactured by an unlicensed and undisclosed sub-subcontractor. His case was buried in red tape until he was diagnosed with late stage lung cancer. They settled with him and in exchange for a check he agreed not to say another word about it.

Recently, two other Boeing whistleblowers raising similar allegations died under mysterious and questionable circumstances.

Senator Cantwell “cited news reports suggesting that there were dozens of instances at Boeing and its fuselage contractor Spirit AeroSystems where procedures and products didn’t meet FAA standards.” She also prodded Whitaker over his department’s “over-reliance on audits.

The FAA, she reminded, has “a tendency not to take steps to change things even when those audits revealed problems.” For instance, “in 2022 and 2023, as part of individualized FAA conducted audits of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems, production lines required Boeing to correct any identified problems.” What happened? Not much.

Spirit Aero has also been in the spotlight for shoddy work resulting in planes with deficiencies being transferred to Boeing’s Renton production facility. Yet, your new special audit still found problems. It begs the question about the audit process itself at the FAA.