Among the most dangerous activities in the aviation industry is the installation on an aircraft of unapproved or bogus parts – parts that have not been properly tested, approved, and certified as safe. The practice has been linked to the crash of both commercial and private aircraft. It is illegal to install uncertified parts on an aircraft and the practice is so dangerous that those who do can end up in jail.
The FAA has now determined that Boeing installed unapproved parts on over 700 of its 737 aircraft. We’re not talking here about parts related to the crash of the two 737 Maxes. These unapproved parts relate to the 737’s navigation system and are an entirely different scandal.
As a result of catching Boeing — once again red-handed – knowingly rolling the dice with the safety of the flying public, the FAA fined Boeing. That’s good. According to FAA administrator Steve Dickson:
Keeping the flying public safe is our primary responsibility. That is not negotiable, and the FAA will hold Boeing and the aviation industry accountable to keep our skies safe.
But the fine was only $17 million. For Boeing, that’s a pittance. It’s likely that by installing the unapproved parts and paying the fine, Boeing is dollars ahead from where it would have been had it stopped production of the aircraft and awaited parts that were properly certified. It’s hard to see how the FAA’s action will deter Boeing from taking future safety shortcuts. In fact, it seems that the FAA is giving Boeing a pass.