A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted to the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is currently stalled, awaiting disposition by the aircraft manufacturers named in the request.
Oxebridge filed the FOIA in June, requesting the FAA identify the company responsible for alleged hydrogen embrittlement reported as affecting slat tracks installed on Boeing 737 MAX and 737 NG airplanes. Previous official announcements by Spirit AeroSystems and the FAA regarding the defects intentionally refused to identify the supplier responsible for the defect, despite the fact that the same defects could affect parts made for other manufacturers, and in other industries.
Over 300 aircraft were known to be affected.
Oxebridge is requesting the FAA disclose the supplier so that it can assess whether other industries, such as medical devices or automotive manufacturers, were impacted. It is generally suspected the hydrogen embrittlement issues came from deficient Cadmium-Titanium (“TiCad”) plating, and such plating houses often work for multiple customers and multiple industries simultaneously.
The FAA has delayed responding to the request, claiming, “this material contains information submitted to the agency from outside sources (companies). Therefore, we must coordinate disclosure of this information with the submitters.”
Sources suspect the supplier involved is a South Korean company hired by Spirit AeroSystems, after Spirit moved the work from its prior supplier ASCO. That move was reportedly done to “reduce costs,” according to one source. Oxebridge has identified only three possible Korean companies who may have performed the work: Hyundai WIA, Samwoo Metal Industries and Cotec Corp. Oxebridge reached out to all three companies, but none have responded to questions.
Spirit is contracted by Boeing to build the 737 type aircraft involved.
FAA has been criticized for helping both Boeing and Spirit hide this information from the public and the industry, as it did for failing to enforce FAA regulations on Boeing, resulting in the grounding of the 737 MAX fleet after two deadly crashes. Oxebridge argued in its FOIA request that the public safety is put at risk so long as the information is not disclosed, and the full scope of the defects remains unknown.