Sen. Cruz: FAA Must Guarantee Boeing Aircraft Safely Designed and Built

June 13, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. In his opening statement at today’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing titled “FAA Oversight of Aviation Manufacturing,” Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) highlighted how the recently passed FAA Reauthorization Act directs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct risk-based inspections of aircraft manufacturers in the aftermath of concerning accidents with Boeing aircraft, like the decompression of Alaska Airlines flight 1282. Sen. Cruz also discussed how FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker will ensure their oversight of Boeing production is sufficient to prevent future incidents and assess Boeing’s plan in response to FAA’s audit. Lastly, Sen. Cruz reiterated his calls for Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun to testify before the Commerce Committee, the committee of jurisdiction for civil aviation and oversight.

Here are Sen. Cruz’s remarks prepared for delivery:

“Thank you, Chairwoman. I appreciate you holding today’s hearing on this critically important topic: FAA’s oversight of aviation manufacturers. 

“I’d like to thank Administrator Whitaker for appearing before us today, especially as his agency is busy implementing the bipartisan, bicameral FAA Reauthorization Act that we authored and passed last month.  Our crucial bipartisan legislation gives the FAA much-needed long-term stability and allows it to refocus on its primary mission: the safety of our national aviation system.  It directs the FAA to conduct risk-based inspections of manufacturers, like Boeing, to ensure there is no repeat of the Alaska Airlines incident. Further, it provides FAA with important tools for developing a workforce with the technical know-how necessary to overseeing complex aircraft manufacturers, and it includes key protections for whistleblowers who play an important role in the aviation system, so that employees can speak out freely when raising safety concerns.  


“On January 5th of this year, minutes into its trip, Alaska Airlines flight 1282 experienced a rapid cabin decompression at 16,000 feet when a plug door flew off the plane. Thankfully, the pilots landed the plane safely with no critical injuries. We are fortunate no passengers were seated near the plug door, and the plane was still climbing to its cruising altitude. Had either of these factors been different, the results would have been catastrophic.  

“The aircraft in question was a Boeing 737 MAX 9, delivered to Alaska Airlines just a few months prior. For many of us it raised concerns once again of the safety of Boeing aircraft. In the weeks that followed, the NTSB accident investigation and the FAA’s audit discovered unsettling details about Boeing’s production lines. 

“Reports from airlines of untightened bolts or overtightened bolts on Boeing 737 MAX aircraft have born the phrase from passengers of ‘if it’s a Boeing, I ain’t going.’ Even more alarming, NTSB stated the reason the plug door flew off the aircraft was because an employee at the Boeing facility opened the plug door and forgot to put the bolts back in. Such a fundamental lapse in the production line is inexcusable and should never have happened.

“I was glad to see the FAA took swift action to ground the 737 MAX after the accident. However, I remain concerned that FAA’s oversight of Boeing failed to spot serious production gaps. The FAA, through their oversight of manufacturers, is responsible for ensuring that when a passenger gets on a plane, they can have the utmost confidence in that plane's safety. The FAA must guarantee that not only are they certifying an aircraft is safely designed but that the manufacturer is building them to that safe design. Clearly, that was not happening at Boeing.  

“Today, we are going to hear from Administrator Whitaker on what actions the FAA is taking to ensure their oversight of Boeing’s production prevents further mishaps. I am interested in hearing his impressions of Boeing’s actions in response to FAA’s audits of the Boeing production line.  

“It is clear the safety culture at Boeing needs to be reinforced, something that does not happen overnight. I look forward to hearing on FAA’s long-term efforts to ensure that Boeing is following through on its improvement plan. The safety of the flying public is vital, and it is our job to ensure the FAA and Boeing are taking their safety responsibilities seriously.  

“I hope we will soon hear directly from Boeing on how they are going to address production failures. I understand that Boeing’s CEO Dave Calhoun will be appearing soon before the U.S. Senate, but I am disappointed it won’t be this Committee. We have a responsibility as the Committee of jurisdiction for civil aviation to conduct oversight on these matters and trust will soon hear from Boeing execs.

“As always, the safety of the traveling public is a top priority for this Committee and I look forward to today’s hearing.”