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Boeing, FAA to Examine Jet Manufacturing Process

From Associated Press

Boeing Co., embarrassed by a recent string of production lapses, will join the Federal Aviation Administration in examining its production and quality-control systems, the government and the aircraft maker said Monday.

The decision to conduct the separate but simultaneous reviews comes a month after the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990, a Boeing 767, but results from other incidents, including:

* An airline telling Boeing that two of 16 bolts holding the vertical stabilizer onto the tail of a 767 were not sufficiently tightened.

* Assembly line mechanics at Boeing’s Everett, Wash., plant, where 747s, 767s and 777s are built, reporting that fuel tank repairs were being made after the tanks had been inspected and that debris such as sealant tubes and rivet guns were occasionally left behind.

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* An adhesive being improperly applied to a condensation barrier that keeps moisture from dripping onto cockpit electronics. The drip shields also did not meet flammability standards, prompting Boeing to briefly halt delivery of 50 airplanes while the part was replaced.

* The discovery of adhesive in some air ducts used in airplane cabins, requiring that some ductwork be brought to FAA standards.

None of the problems posed a direct safety hazard and no accidents resulted. But they came in the shadow of the mysterious EgyptAir crash, in which all 217 people aboard died when the plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean off Nantucket Island on Oct. 31.

“We had a very tragic accident, followed by two or three other things that hit almost simultaneously,” said Liz Otis, vice president of quality at Boeing Commercial Airplane Group. “People, perceptions being what they will, draw conclusions even though they are totally unrelated.”

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The FAA review will begin Thursday and continue through February at the company’s three plants in Seattle, Everett and Renton, Wash.

The agency will be studying everything from aircraft engineering to parts receiving and the manufacturing process, including how engineering changes are incorporated.

The announcement came after markets closed. Boeing stock fell 19 cents to close at $40.88 on the New York Stock Exchange.


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