FAA orders Boeing to draft remedial plan for safety oversights within three months

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29th February 2024 – (Washington) The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has instituted a stringent 90-day deadline for Boeing to devise a comprehensive strategy to rectify significant safety and quality control deficiencies. This mandate was issued following a high-level meeting between FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker and Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun on Tuesday.

In discussions that extended throughout the day, Whitaker underscored the urgency of the situation, pressing Boeing to take immediate corrective action. This pivotal meeting occurred in the wake of a damning report, commissioned by the FAA for over a year, which highlighted a troubling disconnect between Boeing’s management and its workforce. The report detailed a culture where employees might hesitate to flag up safety concerns, fearing negative repercussions on their career progression.

The timing of the gathering was also notable as it precedes the expected publication of a detailed FAA audit of Boeing’s manufacturing processes. This audit was prompted by revelations of critical oversights, including the omission of essential bolts on the door plug of a Boeing 737 Max 9, an error that came to light after the component blew open mid-air.

The FAA has stipulated that Boeing’s forthcoming plan must effectively bolster its Safety Management System (SMS) – a key framework designed to guide personnel in maintaining the highest standards of aircraft safety. Despite recent comprehensive revisions to the SMS manual, an investigative panel found that many employees were not fully versed in the system’s objectives or procedures.

In line with the recommendations put forth on Monday by the panel that examined Boeing’s safety challenges, the FAA’s directive accelerates the timeline for improvements. Boeing is now compelled to demonstrate a “measurable, systemic shift in manufacturing quality control,” as per the FAA’s requirements.

The spectre of past safety failures looms large for Boeing, particularly in light of the 5th January incident, which led to a 19-day halt in operations for all Max 9 aircraft and renewed global scrutiny of the aerospace giant’s practices following the tragic Max 8 crashes of 2018 and 2019.