FAA Saw Boeing Supplier Using Liquid Dawn Soap on 737 Max Door Seal: NYT

  • Mechanics at a Boeing supplier used liquid soap as a lubricant to fit a 737 Max door seal, per NYT.
  • The instance was mentioned in a document discussing FAA audits of Boeing and its supplier, per NYT.
  • This particular supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, is in charge of building the 737 Max’s fuselage.

The Federal Aviation Administration auditors saw mechanics for a Boeing supplier using liquid Dawn soap as a lubricant for fitting a door seal, The New York Times reported.

The regulator then observed mechanics at Spirit AeroSystems, which builds the fuselage of Boeing’s 737 Max, cleaning up using a wet cheesecloth, per The Times’ Mark Walker.

These findings were part of a six-week audit documented in a set of FAA presentation slides upon which The Times based its report.

The slides said that Boeing had failed 33 of 89 product audits related to 737 Max production, while Spirit failed seven of 13 audits, per The Times.

Global scrutiny is building on the quality of the 737 Max’s fuselage after a door plug on an Alaska Airlines flight blew out in January while the aircraft was still midair.

The incident triggered a push to investigate safety standards at Boeing, which had been accused of quality assurance lapses for several years.

The Times reported that most of the issues flagged by the FAA involved manufacturing staff not following approved procedures, while some involved issues with documenting quality control.

A note for the liquid soap incident said the door seal fitting instructions were “vague and unclear on what specifications or actions are to be followed or recorded by the mechanic,'” per The Times.

In response to The Times’ report, Boeing told Business Insider in a statement that it would “continue to implement immediate changes and develop a comprehensive action plan to strengthen safety and quality.”

“We are squarely focused on taking significant, demonstrated action with transparency at every turn,” the statement said.

Spirit did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside regular business hours by Business Insider.

A spokesperson for Spirit told The Times the firm is “reviewing all identified nonconformities for corrective action.”

The report comes after the FAA said in late February that it had found quality control issues at Boeing, and gave the aviation company 90 days to submit a plan for fixing these problems.

In response, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said the company plans to follow through with the FAA’s demands. “We have a clear picture of what needs to be done,” he said.

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