Boeing Supplier Used Dawn Liquid Soap as Lubricant

It's one of the anomalies that turned up in an FAA audit
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2024 11:44 AM CDT
Boeing Supplier Used Dawn Liquid Soap as Lubricant
A 737 fuselage at Spirit AeroSystems, the world's largest independent supplier of commercial airplane assemblies and components.   (PRNewsFoto/Spirit AeroSystems)

After a door plug flew off an Alaska Airlines jet, the FAA took a closer look at the Boeing manufacturing process for the 737 Max. The New York Times has details from the six-week audit, which flagged "dozens of problems" at Boeing and supplier Spirit AeroSystems. However, two in particular might leave people scratching their heads:

  • Odd lube: Mechanics at Spirit used Dawn liquid soap as lubricant while fitting a door seal, which was then cleaned with a cheesecloth. Instructions were "vague and unclear on what specifications/actions are to be followed or recorded by the mechanic," per the FAA.
  • Odd tool: Spirit mechanics also used a hotel key card to check a door seal, a tactic that was "not identified/documented/called-out in the production order," per the FAA.

Spirit, when asked about both incidents, told the Times it was "reviewing all identified nonconformities for corrective action." A Boeing spokesperson didn't weigh in on the appropriateness of the tools. More broadly, FAA auditors said Boeing failed 33 of 89 product audits, and Spirit failed seven of 13. Business Insider notes that in February, the FAA gave Boeing 90 days to submit a plan to fix flagged problems. (More Boeing stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.