FAA gives Boeing 90 days to fix quality issues

The US Federal Aviation Administration will give Boeing 90 days to come up with a comprehensive action plan to address its "systemic quality-control issues."
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to fix quality issues

An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, US, on March 21, 2019.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Wednesday it will give Boeing 90 days to come up with a comprehensive action plan to address its "systemic quality-control issues."

The plan must also include steps Boeing will take to mature its Safety Management System (SMS) program, which it committed to in 2019. In addition, Boeing must integrate its SMS program with a Quality Management System, which will ensure the same level of rigor and oversight is applied to the company's suppliers and create a measurable, systemic shift in manufacturing quality control, it noted in a statement.

"Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements," said the new FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker on Tuesday after meeting with Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun and his senior safety team. "Making foundational change will require a sustained effort from Boeing's leadership, and we are going to hold them accountable every step of the way, with mutually understood milestones and expectations."

"Boeing must take a fresh look at every aspect of their quality-control process and ensure that safety is the company's guiding principle," Whitaker said.

In a statement on Wednesday reacting to the FAA announcement, Calhoun said that the company has "a clear picture of what needs to be done" and that the company's leadership team "is totally committed to meeting this challenge."

"Boeing will develop the comprehensive action plan with measurable criteria that demonstrates the profound change that Administrator Whitaker and the FAA demand," Calhoun said.

The FAA noted the plan to fix the quality problems must take into account both the forthcoming results of an ongoing FAA production-line audit and the findings released Tuesday in an expert review panel report commissioned by the FAA.

A preliminary report on the in-flight blowout of a fuselage panel on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX last month by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that four retainer bolts required to prevent the fuselage panel from coming off were not put back after the panel was opened and re-closed at Boeing's Renton 737 MAX final assembly plant.

The report of the expert panel identified substantive upgrades needed to improve Boeing's quality and safety systems and directed the company to develop an action plan within six months. Just a day later, the FAA cut that to three months.

The FAA has already stopped Boeing's planned ramp-up of 737 MAX production, capping the rate for now at 38 jets per month.

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