FAA Gives Boeing 90 Days To Come Up With A Plan To Address Quality Issues

In this National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) handout, plastic covers the exterior of the fuselage plug area of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Boeing 737-9 MAX on January 7, 2024 in Portland, Oregon. (Handout/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

By Gregory Wallace, CNN

(CNN) — Boeing must produce within 90 days a plan to fix serious quality and safety issues, the Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday.

The agency said FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker and Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun held a day-long meeting on Tuesday where Whitaker made the demand.

That meeting came the day after a year-long FAA-commissioned probe found a “disconnect” between Boeing executives and employees on safety and said employees fear reassignment or stalled career growth for reporting safety issues.

The meeting preceded the anticipated release of a six-week FAA audit of Boeing’s production line – an audit spurred by investigators’ finding that critical bolts were not installed on a Boeing 737 Max 9 door plug that blew open mid-flight.

The FAA said the Boeing plan must address weaknesses in implementing the company’s Safety Management System, known as SMS, as well as integrating the SMS program with another quality program. SMS is a manual which is supposed to guide employees on procedures they should follow to insure planes are safe. But the panel said despite a wholesale re-write of the manual in recent years, it found “many Boeing employees did not demonstrate knowledge of Boeing’s SMS efforts, nor its purpose and procedures.”

The panel that reported on Boeing’s safety shortcomings on Monday recommended the company address those issues within six months; the FAA’s new directive sets a faster timeline.

The resulting plan from Boeing must lead to a “measurable, systemic shift in manufacturing quality control,” the FAA said.

Boeing has had a history of safety lapses. The January 5 blowout incident triggered a 19-day emergency grounding of all Max 9s and re-ignited scrutiny of Boeing following the fatal Max 8 crashes of 2018 and 2019.

CNN’s Chris Isidore contributed to this report.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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