FAA audit faults Boeing for multiple instances of quality lapses

Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday its audit of Boeing and supplier Spirit AeroSystems “found multiple instances where the companies allegedly failed to comply with manufacturing quality control requirements.”

The FAA’s six-week audit was prompted by the Jan. 5 incident when a door-sized panel blew out of a Boeing 737-9 Max jet at 16,000 feet above Portland on an Alaska Airlines flight with 177 passengers and crew on board.

The FAA said it identified noncompliance issues in “Boeing’s manufacturing process control, parts handling and storage, and product control.”

It did not provide any specific details, saying these are part of an ongoing investigation.

Last week, the FAA gave Boeing 90 days to come up with a detailed plan to get control of its quality management system, both in-house and at the supplier level. The agency said Monday that the plan must address the findings in its audit.

The federal agency has increased the number of inspectors on site at both Boeing’s 737 Max final assembly plant in Renton and at Spirit’s Max fuselage assembly plant in Wichita, Kansas.

The agency said it will “thoroughly review all of Boeing’s corrective actions to determine if they fully address the FAA’s findings.”


Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun met last week with FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker and was informed of the 90-day deadline to come up with an action plan.

After that meeting, Calhoun issued a statement stating that Boeing now has “a clear picture of what needs to be done.”

“Boeing will develop the comprehensive action plan with measurable criteria that demonstrates the profound change that Administrator Whitaker and the FAA demand,” Calhoun said. “Our Boeing leadership team is totally committed to meeting this challenge.”

On Monday morning, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg weighed in.

In a tweet, he referred to the Alaska Airlines fuselage blowout in January as “Boeing’s 2nd major safety incident in 6 years,” following the two fatal Max crashes in 2018 and 2019.

“Boeing must do everything it takes to fix this to the satisfaction of the FAA & the American flying public,” Buttigieg tweeted.

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