The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will continue to hold Boeing accountable after reviewing the company’s roadmap to fix its systemic safety and quality-control issues, Administrator Mike Whitaker said following a three-hour meeting on 30 May with senior Boeing leaders at FAA headquarters.  

In February, Whitaker directed Boeing to develop a comprehensive action plan to set a new standard for safety and how the company does business following the 5 January Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX door plug incident. This roadmap is necessary to reset the safety culture at Boeing, as well as address the findings of the FAA’s special audit and the expert review panel report.  

The company has developed this proposal over the last 90 days, with detailed input from the FAA throughout the process. Boeing senior leadership met with the FAA on 30 May to present the roadmap and discuss future implementation. Boeing is also now required to have a mandatory Safety Management System, which will ensure a structured, repeatable, systematic approach to identify hazards and manage risk.

“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. Today, we reviewed Boeing’s roadmap to set a new standard of safety and underscored that they must follow through on corrective actions and effectively transform their safety culture,” Administrator Whitaker said. “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.”

Whitaker met Thursday morning with Boeing President and CEO David Calhoun and other senior leaders to discuss 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 communicated with Boeing officials throughout the last 3 months, including 30- and 60-day check-ins, to ensure they clearly understood the agency’s expectations and were making real-time progress.  

The agency required Boeing to provide a detailed update on completed actions as well as mid- and long-term actions Boeing will take. These actions include:

  • Strengthening its Safety Management System, including employee safety reporting
  • Simplifying processes and procedures and clarifying work instructions
  • Enhanced supplier oversight
  • Enhanced employee training and communication
  • Increased internal audits of production system  

Additionally, Boeing had to identify the results of completed actions and how it will monitor those and future actions to validate progress and sustain the changes.

To ensure long-term success, the FAA will actively monitor review Boeing’s progress in a variety of ways. A team of FAA subject matter experts will continually review Boeing’s progress and the effectiveness of the changes in addressing the audit findings and expert panel recommendations. Senior FAA leaders will meet with Boeing weekly to review their performance metrics, progress, and any challenges they’re facing in implementing the changes. They also will conduct monthly reviews to gauge Boeing’s progress. The FAA will continue its enhanced oversight of Boeing and its suppliers.

This includes:

  • More safety inspectors in the Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems facilities
  • More conversations with company employees to gauge the effectiveness of changes
  • Additional inspections at critical points of the production process and auditing of the production process
  • Monitoring quality system metrics to identify any areas of concern

Additional actions the FAA has taken as part of its aggressive oversight of Boeing and its suppliers include:

  • Immediately grounded 171 Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory. 
  • Increased onsite safety inspector presence at Boeing’s facility in Renton, Washington, and Spirit AeroSystems’ facility in Wichita, Kansas.
  • Halted production expansion of the Boeing 737 MAX.
  • Administrator Whitaker visited to Boeing’s factory floor in Renton, Washington, to see the 737 production line and hear directly from Boeing engineers, mechanics, and others about quality control processes. He has actively encouraged all whistleblower complaints, and the FAA investigates every single one.
  • Concluded an audit of Boeing’s production line that went above and beyond FAA’s standard inspection process. The FAA identified non-compliance issues in Boeing’s manufacturing process control, parts handling and storage, and product control. Our audit is complete but it is part of an ongoing investigation, and we cannot release further details.
  • The FAA continues to issue airworthiness certificates for every newly produced Boeing 737 MAX.

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