FAA audit finds Boeing violated manufacturing quality standards


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Monday that a six-week audit of Boeing and its supplier Spirit AeroSystems found multiple instances where the companies failed to comply with manufacturing quality control requirements for the Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft.

The audit, prompted by the January 5th incident where a cabin door blew out mid-flight on an Alaska Airlines 737-9 MAX, identified deficiencies in Boeing’s manufacturing process control, parts handling and storage, and product control processes.

“The FAA identified non-compliance issues in Boeing’s manufacturing process control, parts handling and storage, and product control,” the agency stated in its update.

In a meeting last week, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker informed Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun and other senior leaders that the company must address the audit findings as part of a comprehensive plan to fix systemic quality control issues within 90 days.

The plan must also incorporate the forthcoming results of an expert review examining Boeing’s safety culture, which was required by the 2020 Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act.

“Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements,” Whitaker stated after the meeting, which happened on February 27th.

Whitaker added: “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.”

To hold Boeing accountable, the FAA has halted further production increases of the 737 MAX, is considering appointing an independent third party to oversee quality systems, and will maintain an increased presence at Boeing’s Renton facility and Spirit’s Wichita plant.

The agency provided both companies with summaries of the audit findings and will thoroughly review all corrective actions taken by Boeing before determining if they adequately address the identified issues.

The FAA’s actions represent the latest headache for Boeing surrounding its 737 MAX program, which was grounded for 20 months after two fatal crashes killed 346 people.

Lawsuits filed

Meanwhile, three passengers aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 are taking legal action against the airline and Boeing, seeking a staggering USD 1 billion in damages.

The passengers—Kyle Rinker, Amanda Strickland, and Kevin Kwok—filed a complaint in Multnomah County, Oregon, on February 20th, according to a report from CBS News.

The lawsuit alleges negligence as the cause of the incident, with the sudden pressure change inside the cabin leading to severe mental, emotional, and physical injuries, including post-traumatic stress.

The preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that the mid-cabin door plug blew out after four key bolts were missing from the aircraft. Airlines discovered loose bolts on additional Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft during enhanced maintenance checks prompted by issues with door plugs.

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