FAA gives Boeing 90 days to come up with quality control plan after 737 Max accident

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An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 Max airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, on March 21, 2019.
Lindsey Wasson | Reuters

The Federal Aviation Administration is giving Boeing 90 days to come up with a plan to improve quality control, the agency said Wednesday, less than two months after a door plug blew out of a 737 Max 9 minutes into an Alaska Airlines flight.

Bolts needed to secure the unused door panel on the nearly new plane appeared to be missing, a preliminary investigation of Flight 1282 found earlier this month. The door plug was removed and reinstalled at Boeing’s Renton, Washington 737 Max factory.

It was the latest and most serious of a series of production problems on Boeing’s best-selling aircraft.

“Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said in a release, a day after he met with Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun and company safety managers. “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.”   

The FAA is in the middle of an audit of Boeing’s 737 production lines. The agency last month said it would halt Boeing’s planned ramp-up of 737 Max planes until the regulator is satisfied with quality control on the company’s production lines.

On Monday, an expert panel’s report on Boeing found a “disconnect” between the manufacturer’s senior management and employees on safety culture. The report was required by Congress following two crashes in 2018 and 2019 of Boeing 737 Max planes, which killed everyone on board the flights.

The FAA said Wednesday that it expects Boeing’s plan to include findings from the report and its audit, which it is scheduled to complete in the next few weeks.

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