Boeing has 90 days to create comprehensive action plan, says FAA

The FAA is continuing its investigation into the Jan. 5 flight that depressurized because of a door malfunction.

After a day-long safety discussion on Tuesday, Feb. 27, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told Boeing officials that they “must develop a comprehensive action plan to address its systemic quality-control issues to meet FAA’s non-negotiable safety standard.”

Following the meeting, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said that Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements.

“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,” he said.

The FAA is continuing its investigation into the Jan. 5 incident, where a Boeing 737 Max was flying from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California, at 16,000 feet of elevation when the MED door plug broke away and the cabin immediately depressurized, causing minor injuries to seven passengers and one flight attendant. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a preliminary report saying that four bolts that would have prevented upward movement of the mid exit door (MED) plug were missing before the plug broke away from the plane.

In a Feb. 28 press release, the FAA said that Boeing was told by Whitaker, who had visited the Boeing factory floor in Renton on Feb. 12, that Whitaker “expects the company to provide the FAA a comprehensive action plan within 90 days” and that Boeing’s plan will incorporate the results of the FAA production-line audit, which has not yet been released.

According to the FAA, the plan must include Boeing taking steps to mature its 2019 Safety Management System program, integrate the program with a Quality Management System which would “ensure the same level of rigor and oversight is applied to the company’s suppliers and create a measurable, systemic shift in manufacturing quality control.”

Shortly after the FAA announcement, Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun released a statement.

“By virtue of our quality stand-downs, the FAA audit findings and the recent expert review panel report, we have a clear picture of what needs to be done,” said Calhoun. “Transparency prevailed in all of these discussions. Boeing will develop the comprehensive action plan with measurable criteria that demonstrates the profound change that Administrator Whitaker and the FAA demand. Our Boeing leadership team is totally committed to meeting this challenge.”