FAA Finds Boeing Plant
Violated Rules Making 737s

SEATTLE (AP) - U.S. government inspectors found a Boeing 737 assembly plant violated nearly a dozen production procedures in making planes, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper reported Saturday.
The mistakes were discovered this month during inspections by a Federal Aviation Administration quality-assurance team, the newspaper said. The inspections are part of an audit ordered after a SilkAir Boeing 737-300 crashed in Indonesia in December, killing all 104 people aboard.
A Boeing official familiar with the findings who asked not to be named said the errors found were procedural and in no way affect the safety of the 737s.
The assembly errors at the Boeing plant in Renton, Wash., involved the 737 tail-wing sections, said the newspaper, citing internal Boeing documents. A similar inspection at Boeing's Wichita, Kan., facility found no problems. At both locations, the FAA teams focused on the fabrication and installation of 737 horizontal stabilizers - the wing-like structure on both sides of an aircraft's tail that help balance an airplane. Investigators have said several fasteners and a bolt might have been missing from the SilkAir plane that crashed.
The FAA and Boeing have both said there is no evidence missing fasteners or bolts caused or contributed to the crash, which remains under investigation.
Inspections on 211 Boeing 737s and factory audits were ordered as a precaution in the wake of the crash.
Neither Boeing nor the FAA would comment on the specifics of the Renton inspection.
The newspaper reported FAA inspectors found: - Multiple occurrences of wrong-length fasteners being installed. - Some tools used for inspections and manufacturing were not certified or calibrated. - Quality-assurance inspectors failed to witness functional tests and technicians conducting certain tests were not certified. - Multiple instances of not doing accomplishing assembly jobs according to written instructions. - Aluminum shims used for filling spaces were improperly placed. - Incorrect corrosion preventative used.
"Our desire is for a totally clean bill of health in all aspects of our factory operations," Boeing spokesman Brian Ames said. "We are working aggressively right now to ensure that bill of health. If the FAA determines that we have work to do, we will be resolved to do that work."

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