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Boeing to pay $12 mn penalty to US government to settle safety cases

23 December 2015

Boeing Co had agreed to pay $12 million as penalty to the US government and make broad changes in how it built commercial aircraft to settle complaints that its safety and quality processes fell short of standards.

The penalty comes as the second-highest in an enforcement case ever settled by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Boeing could face additional penalties of as much as $24 million if it failed to adhere to the accord in the next five years, the FAA said in a statement yesterday.

Boeing would also be required to improve management oversight, accountability and internal audits; conduct more training; and "meet progressively more stringent performance metrics in the quality and timeliness" of reports to the FAA.

"It is imperative that everyone complies with our aviation system's high safety standards," transportation secretary Anthony Foxx said in the release. "This agreement is an important step toward ensuring that Boeing fully meets all applicable compliance standards going forward."

With the accord, Boeing has settled two FAA enforcement cases and 11 other brought to its attention in recent years. The most significant case, which dated back to 2012, alleged that Boeing missed a deadline to provide airlines with instructions to install devices on the 747 and 757 jets to prevent fuel-tank explosions.

According to a statement released by Boeing, the fine "fairly" addressed the matter.

"As a company we take responsibility for our actions, and we will never compromise on our commitment to quality and compliance," the statement said.

The fuel tank instructions formed part of an effort to address issues that led to an explosion in  a Boeing 747 fuel tank over the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island, New York, in 1996. The explosion on the TWA Flight 800 killed all 230 people on board.

In its regulations published in 2008, the FAA called on manufacturers to develop design changes and service instructions for installing systems to reduce fuel tank flammability.

Manufacturers were expected to submit service instruction until 27 December 2010, for FAA approval.

The instructions were meant to explain how to install systems that would replace the oxygen in airplane fuel tanks with non-flammable nitrogen gas, to reduce the possibility of explosion.

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