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WH says oversight of Boeing should reassure Americans, but won’t say if Biden thinks it’s safe to fly on company’s planes

By Michael Williams and Samantha Waldenberg, CNN

Washington (CNN) — The White House on Friday said federal regulators are doing everything they can to assuage Americans’ anxieties about flying after notable recent mishaps on Boeing planes.

But asked directly whether President Joe Biden thinks it’s safe to fly, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre sidestepped.

“I think what he – I think what Americans should know is that (the Federal Aviation Administration) is doing everything that it can to make sure that Americans feel safe,” Jean-Pierre told reporters during a press briefing Friday.

She added that the FAA is taking actions “to make sure that there is increased safety oversight of Boeing and that’s what the American people should feel reassured by.”

Her comments came after several scary incidents involving planes manufactured by Boeing, including the terrifying plunge earlier this week involving a Latam Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight from Australia to New Zealand.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that a flight attendant may have inadvertently hit a switch on the pilot’s seat while serving a meal, pushing the pilot into controls that altered the plane’s flight, injuring dozens of passengers. CNN has yet to be able to confirm the Journal’s report.

“The investigation of Flight LA800 is ongoing and we defer to the investigation authorities on any potential findings,” Boeing said in a statement. “We have taken the precautionary measure of reminding 787 operators of a service bulletin issued in 2017 which included instructions for inspecting and maintaining switches on flight deck seats.”

And in January, a door plug blew out on a Boeing-manufactured Alaskan Airlines flight, leaving a gaping hole in the plane’s fuselage.

That incident resulted in a temporary nationwide grounding of certain 737 Max jets, followed by congressional hearings, production and delivery delays, multiple federal investigations — including a criminal probe — and a stock that has lost a quarter of its value this year, shaving more than $40 billion off the company’s market valuation.

The plug incident brought a renewed focus to the safety of Boeing commercial jets, a record that included two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed a total of 346 people.

Boeing has accepted legal liability for those crashes, which were attributed to a design flaw in the 737 Max. The Justice Department is now investigating whether or not the latest Boeing issues brought to light in the wake of the Alaska Air incident would violate a controversial deferred prosecution agreement the company reached in 2021, which could open the company for criminal liability.

An audit of Boeing since the Alaska Air flight by the FAA found multiple instances of “non-compliance issues in Boeing’s manufacturing process control, parts handling and storage, and product control.” The agency has given Boeing 90 days to come up with a plan to fix its quality issues. Boeing has said it is working to meet the FAA’s demands.

Jean-Pierre told reporters after the January incident that Biden “believes it is safe to fly.”

Air Force One is manufactured by Boeing.

CNN’s Chris Isidore contributed to this report

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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