Buttigieg: ‘We never take for granted’ U.S. aviation safety record amid Boeing issues

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Friday “we can never take for granted” the American aviation safety record, after recent issues with Boeing aircraft.

“[W]e never take for granted, the safety record of U.S. aviation,” Buttigieg said in an interview on MSNBC. “It’s just an astonishing fact that right now, if you are watching this program, this interview, right now, sitting on board an airplane, you are safer than almost any other context that we could imagine, you, sitting watching this interview.”

The secretary’s comments follow an incident Thursday in which a Boeing 747 cargo plane was seen on fire in the air quickly after takeoff. The plane was able to make an emergency landing at Miami International Airport, where it had taken off.

It follows an incident on a Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft earlier this month in which an “explosive decompression” occurred on an Alaska Airlines flight from Portland, Ore., to Ontario, Calif., when a panel plugging an unused emergency exit door blew off midflight.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Wednesday that it was expanding a probe that it began in the wake of the Alaska Airlines incident.

“After taking decisive action to ground 171 Boeing 737-9 MAX airplanes, the FAA is now investigating Boeing’s manufacturing practices and production lines, including those involving subcontractor Spirit AeroSystems, bolstering its oversight of Boeing, and examining potential system change,” the agency said in a statement.

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The FAA also announced it is increasing the oversight of Boeing’s production last week, including auditing its production. FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said the “grounding of the 737-9 and the multiple production-related issues identified in recent years require us to look at every option to reduce risk.”

“The FAA is exploring the use of an independent third party to oversee Boeing’s inspections and its quality system,” Whitaker said in the release

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