FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to address ‘systemic quality-control issues’

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered Boeing to create a plan to address its “systemic quality-control” issues within the next 90 days, following an audit and expert panel’s findings on the aircraft manufacturer.

The plan is expected to ensure the company can meet the FAA’s “non-negotiable safety standards,” the agency wrote Wednesday in a statement.

“Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said following a Tuesday meeting with Boeing CEO and President David Calhoun. “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.”

Calhoun, in a statement to The Hill, said Boeing has a “clear picture” of the necessary steps for the future.

The plane manufacturer has faced increased scrutiny this year following a midair blowout on a Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft in early January. A door plug blew off the side of the plane during an Alaska Airlines flight, leaving a hole in its place. The plane made an emergency landing at Portland International Airport, and no serious injuries were reported.

The company is facing numerous lawsuits, however, from passengers and stockholders over the incident.

“Boeing will develop the comprehensive action plan with measurable criteria that demonstrates the profound change that Administrator Whitaker and the FAA demand. Our Boeing leadership team is totally committed to meeting this challenge,” Calhoun said Wednesday.

FAA has led the probe into Boeing since the January blowout to ensure the company’s planes follow the agency’s safety regulations. This included an audit of the 737 Max 9 production line and suppliers after the estimated 171 aircraft models were grounded the day after the incident.

Many of these plans have since returned to service after undergoing a FAA-approved inspection and maintenance process.

The order from the FAA comes on the heels of an expert panel’s report, released Monday, that found a “disconnect” between the manufacturer’s senior management and other members of the organization when it comes to safety culture.

The report was ordered in 2020 after lawmakers passed legislation to change how the FAA checks new planes after two deadly crashes involving Boeing Max jetliners in 2018 and 2019. The crashes killed 346 people.

The agency said Wednesday that Boeing’s plan must also include specific steps the company is taking to improve its “Safety Management System” program, which it committed to in 2019, and integrate it with a Quality Management System to “create a measurable, systemic shift in manufacturing quality control.”

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