By David Shepardson
(Reuters) -The office of the inspector general of the U.S. Transportation Department will audit https://www.oig.dot.gov/sites/default/files/Audit%20Announcement%20-%20FAA%20Oversight%20of%20Boeing%20737%20and%20787%20Production.pdf the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) oversight of Boeing 737 and 787 production, it said on Wednesday.
The watchdog said it would review the FAA’s processes for “identifying and resolving” production issues and “addressing allegations of undue pressure within the production environment.”
The aircraft maker declined to comment. The FAA did not immediately comment.
Boeing suspended deliveries of the 787 Dreamliner in May 2021, after the FAA raised concerns about its proposed inspection method.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) said since 2019 “a number of concerns have been raised regarding production of the Boeing 737 and 787 aircraft – the two production lines with the largest number of aircraft on order.”
The OIG noted in December 2021 that the FAA had mandated inspections on some previously delivered 787 aircraft due to reports of missed requirements during assembly.
The OIG added that the top Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the Transportation Committee and aviation subcommittee in November asked it to conduct a review of the FAA’s oversight of the production of the Boeing 787.
House Transportation Committee chair Peter DeFazio and aviation subcommittee chair Rick Larsen said in a statement late Wednesday the audit “should be thorough and unsparing to help prevent a repeat of safety issues previously identified by FAA and to ensure the manufacture and production of safe aircraft.”
In February, the FAA said it would not allow Boeing to self-certify individual new Boeing 787 planes. Then FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said the FAA needed from Boeing “a systemic fix to their production processes.”
The FAA also said at the time it would retain the authority to issue airworthiness certificates until it is confident “Boeing’s quality control and manufacturing processes consistently produce 787s that meet FAA design standards.”
A December U.S. Senate report said the FAA must do a better job overseeing Boeing and the certification of new planes, as well as review allegations raised by seven industry whistleblowers.
“FAA’s certification process suffers from undue pressure on line engineers and production staff,” the Senate report said.
Boeing’s 737 MAX was grounded globally in March 2019 after deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people and did not resume flying in the United States until December 2020 after software modifications and additional pilot training.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Himani Sarkar)