THE GIANT US aircraft manufacturer Boeing is once again at the centre of a storm over the safety of its planes, this time concerning another of its flagship craft the B787 Dreamliner.
Boeing has been forced to issue an alert to airlines that a vital switch which activates fire extinguishers and cuts off the supply of fuel in the event of an engine catching fire has failed in a ‘small number’ of instances.
The switch is designed to prevent flames spreading across the entire wing of the plane if an engine catches fire.
Airline pilots have claimed that the safety of passengers is being compromised, with one telling the Observer newspaper: ‘If there was an engine fire on a transatlantic flight and the aircraft had one of the defective fire switches, then we would have to fly with a burning wing for up to three hours before we could safely land.’
Despite these fears by pilots, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is responsible for safety tests, has refused to ground the fleet of Dreamliners while admitting that the fault poses a ‘risk to the flying public’.
In an airworthy directive issued to airline companies, the FAA admitted that the switch malfunction is ‘likely to exist or develop in other products of the same design’ and that this means ‘the potential exists for an airline fire to be uncontrollable.’
Instead of immediately grounding all Boeing aircraft with a similar design to the Dreamliner, the FAA instead ordered airlines to check the switch every 30 days! This is not the first time the FAA has stepped in to save Boeing from having its aircraft grounded over safety issues.
The FAA refused to ground the company’s fleet of 737 Max 8 short haul aircraft after the second fatal crash in five months involving this plane in March, with both crashes being attributed to faults in the planes’ ‘stall prevention’ system (MCAS).
After the first crash of a 737 Max 8 in Indonesia, which killed all passengers and crew, Boeing refused to accept that urgent changes to the MCAS system needed to be made, instead telling pilots that it was ‘unclear’ whether the anti-stall system was the sole cause of the crash, implying that pilot error was to blame – and no changes were made.
Following a second fatal crash in Ethiopia caused by identical loss of control by pilots which killed all 346 people on board, Boeing still denied responsibility and claimed that pilot error played a role.
The FAA went along with the company and initially refused to ground the fleet of 737s, saying that there were ‘no systematic issues’ with the aircraft.
It was only after every other country in the world effectively grounded the plane that the FAA and the US government finally caved in and announced a temporary ban on the 737. Now the Dreamliner is in the frame over safety.
Boeing recently speeded up production of the Dreamliner from 12 to 14 a month, while at the same time announcing that it would be replacing 900 quality control inspectors with new ‘smart’ technology.
It has been reported that the company is seeking to cut the hours of physical testing during trials of its aircraft by replacing them with ‘computerised stress simulations’ that they will then send to the FAA for flight safety certification.
One pilot, speaking anonymously, told the press, ‘We, as a pilot community, have found it all smacks of taking the cheap route and not the safe route.’
In this drive to speed-up and cut costs – even at the risk of human life – Boeing has been aided and abetted by the FAA and the US government which have allowed the company to cut corners and virtually self-certificate the safety of its aircraft, and now Boeing want to take it even further in an effort to maximise profits – even if it puts hundreds of lives at risk.
The only way to ensure the greatest possible safety for people is to put an end to profit-driven capitalism through socialist revolution and advance to a socialist society that places human life above all else.