FAA Continues to Hold Boeing Accountable for Safety and Quality Fixes

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintains stringent oversight of Boeing after reviewing the company’s roadmap to address systemic safety and quality-control issues. This decision follows a three-hour meeting between FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker and senior Boeing leaders at FAA headquarters on Thursday.

Comprehensive Action Plan Development

Whitaker tasked Boeing with developing a comprehensive action plan to set a new safety standard following the January 5 Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX door plug incident in February. The roadmap aims to reset Boeing’s safety culture and address findings from the FAA’s special audit and expert review panel report.

Over the past 90 days, Boeing crafted the proposal with detailed input from the FAA. On Thursday morning, Boeing’s senior leadership presented the roadmap and discussed future implementation. A mandatory Safety Management System (SMS) will now be required for Boeing, ensuring a structured approach to hazard identification and risk management.

The FAA prohibits Boeing from increasing 737 MAX production. Photo from aviacionaldia.com

“In the immediate aftermath of January 5, the FAA took unprecedented steps to increase oversight on Boeing. Over the last 90 days, that has meant everything from more safety inspectors in the facilities to halting production expansion,” said Whitaker. “Today, we reviewed Boeing’s roadmap to set a new safety standard and underscored that they must follow through on corrective actions and effectively transform their safety culture. On the FAA’s part, we will make sure they do and that their fixes are effective. This does not mark the end of our increased oversight of Boeing and its suppliers, but it sets a new standard of how Boeing does business.”

Commitment to Safety

Whitaker met with Boeing President and CEO David Calhoun and other senior leaders to discuss the next steps to ensure effectiveness. “I made clear once again that we need to see a strong and unwavering commitment to safety, which must always come first,” Whitaker said. “Systemic change isn’t easy but in this case is absolutely necessary, and the work is never really done when it comes to the safety of the flying public – from Boeing, airlines, or the FAA. But we will hold the company accountable every step of the way to make sure these changes happen.”

The FAA has communicated regularly with Boeing over the last three months, including 30- and 60-day check-ins, to ensure a clear understanding of expectations and real-time progress. Boeing was required to provide updates on completed actions and plans, including:

  • Strengthening its Safety Management System, including employee safety reporting.
  • Simplifying processes and clarifying work instructions.
  • Enhancing supplier oversight.
  • Increasing employee training and communication.
  • Conducting more internal audits of the production system.
Boeing 737 MAX. Photo from Boeing.

Boeing also had to identify the results of completed actions and how it will monitor and sustain future progress. To ensure long-term success, the FAA will actively monitor Boeing’s progress through:

  • Continuous review by a team of FAA subject matter experts.
  • Weekly meetings between senior FAA leaders and Boeing to review performance metrics and challenges.
  • Monthly reviews to gauge Boeing’s progress.

Enhanced Oversight and Inspection

The FAA’s enhanced oversight includes more safety inspectors at Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems facilities, more employee engagement, additional inspections at critical production points, and monitoring quality system metrics. Additional actions taken by the FAA include:

  • Grounding 171 Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory.
  • Increasing onsite safety inspector presence at Boeing’s Renton, Washington, and Spirit AeroSystems’ Wichita, Kansas facilities.
  • Halting production expansion of the Boeing 737 MAX.
  • Administrator Whitaker’s visit to Boeing’s Renton factory floor to discuss quality control processes with engineers and mechanics.
  • Encouraging whistleblower complaints and investigating each one.
  • Completing an audit of Boeing’s production line that identified non-compliance issues in manufacturing process control, parts handling and storage, and product control. The audit is part of an ongoing investigation.

The FAA continues to issue airworthiness certificates for every newly produced Boeing 737 MAX, ensuring each aircraft meets safety standards.

Alexander Mitchell
Alexander Mitchell
Pilot on the B-767, international and overwater operations. Accomplished SIGINT/LLVI operator with five years of diverse experience in strategic and tactical operations. Adept in handling confidential information and situations with discretion. Respected leader, providing purpose, motivation, and direction focused on achieving and exceeding company goals.

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