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FAA orders inspections on 2,600 Boeing planes over oxygen mask issue

The mandate comes after multiple reports of oxygen generators shifting out of position, which could result in their inability to provide oxygen to passengers if the plane depressurizes.
Boeing Justice Department
Posted at 10:31 AM, Jul 09, 2024

Federal regulators have ordered inspections on thousands of Boeing planes over fears that passenger oxygen masks could malfunction in an emergency.

In a filing obtained by Scripps News, the Federal Aviation Administration is mandating the inspections on more than 2,600 Boeing 737 Max and Next Generation airplanes. It comes after multiple reports of oxygen generators shifting out of position, which could result in their inability to provide oxygen to passengers if the plane depressurizes, the FAA said.

"This [airworthiness directive] requires a general visual inspection of the [passenger service unit] oxygen generator installation to determine the configuration of the thermal pads of the retention straps and applicable on-condition actions," the filing states. "This [airworthiness directive] also prohibits the installation of affected parts."

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The new directive came a day after Boeing accepted a plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice to avoid going to trial over two separate 737 Max plane crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people. The aviation giant agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud charge, will pay a fine of over $243 million and must invest more than $450 million into safety and compliance programs.

The plea agreement still requires approval before it can take effect. However, families of crash victims are urging a federal judge to reject the agreement, calling it a "sweetheart deal."

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Federal prosecutors accused Boeing of conspiring to deceive regulators by misleading them about flight-control systems that were added to its 737 Max planes without notifying pilots or airlines. Boeing initially downplayed the significance of the system and then didn't overhaul it until after the second crash in 2019.