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FAA proposes $3.9M fine against Boeing for using defective parts

Boeing Co. was hit with a proposed civil penalty of more than $3.9 million by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which said the company installed faulty parts on its aircraft and then submitted aircraft for final FAA airworthiness certification.

The air safety regulator alleged that Boeing installed nonconforming components on 133 Boeing 737 aircraft. The parts were provided by Southwest United Industries Inc., according to a Dec. 6 FAA statement. Boeing has 30 days to respond to the FAA letter that proposed the civil penalty.

The FAA said Boeing failed to "adequately oversee its suppliers" to ensure they complied with its quality assurance system. This resulted in the installation of weakened slat tracks, which guide the movement of panels at the leading edge of the plane wings. The panels, known as slats, provide additional lift during takeoff and landing. The slat tracks were weakened by a condition known as hydrogen embrittlement that can occur during cadmium-titanium plating, according to the regulator.

"The FAA further alleges that Boeing knowingly submitted aircraft for final FAA airworthiness certification after determining that the parts could not be used due to a failed strength test," the agency said.

A Boeing spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that the company is working closely with airlines that operate the affected planes to address the issue. "We are committed to continuing to strengthen our processes to ensure that quality issues in our production system are promptly identified, elevated, and resolved," the spokesman said.