Boeing tells federal regulators how it plans to fix aircraft safety and quality problems

May 29, 2024, 9:07 PM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 4:54 pm

Boeing officials explained their plan to improve manufacturing quality and safety during a three-hour meeting Thursday with federal officials, who will continue restrictions they placed on the company after one of its jetliners suffered a blowout of a fuselage panel in January.

Federal Aviation Administration chief Mike Whitaker said the plan is comprehensive and includes encouraging Boeing employees to speak up about safety concerns.

“This is a guide for a new way for Boeing to do business.” Whitaker told reporters after the meeting. ”Boeing has laid out their road map, and now they need to execute.”

Boeing released an 11-page summary of its “Product Safety and Quality Plan,” which described steps the company is taking, including increased inspections and tighter controls over suppliers. It also says how Boeing will measure its improvement.

CEO David Calhoun, who announced after the Jan. 5 blowout during an Alaska Airlines flight that he would step down at the end of the year, said the document was crafted from comments by employees, the FAA, airlines and independent experts.

“Many of these actions are underway, and our team is committed to executing on each element of the plan,” Calhoun said in a statement. “It is through this continuous learning and improvement process that our industry has made commercial aviation the safest mode of transportation. The actions we are taking today will further strengthen that foundation.”

Stephanie Pope, a possible successor to Calhoun who was recently promoted to chief operating officer and chief executive of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division, said the plan was designed to improve employee training, simplify manufacturing, “eliminate defects at the source, and elevate our safety and quality culture.”

Nobody was hurt during the Jan. 5 blowout of a door plug on a relatively new Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 as it flew above Oregon. Accident investigators determined that bolts used to help secure the panel were missing after a repair job in a Boeing factory.

The mishap further battered Boeing’s reputation, led to multiple civil and criminal investigations, and prompted Whitaker to order the report that Boeing delivered Thursday.

Whitaker said he wanted Boeing to develop a comprehensive, detailed plan that improves manufacturing process, quality and safety management, and encourages employees to raise concerns about safety.

“Those are all elements of the plan,” Whitaker said. He added that Boeing had accepted all the safety recommendations made earlier this year by a panel of independent safety experts.

Still, Whitaker said, the FAA will continue to cap production of the 737 Max, Boeing’s best-selling plane, and to insist on approving each plane that comes off the assembly line. He said the FAA also will maintain a “significant increase” in safety inspectors at plants run by Boeing and its key supplier, Spirit AeroSystems.

Boeing’s recent problems could expose it to criminal prosecution related to the deadly crashes of two Max jetliners in 2018 and 2019. The Justice Department said two weeks ago that Boeing violated terms of a 2021 settlement that allowed it to avoid prosecution for fraud. The charge was based on the company allegedly deceiving regulators about a flight-control system that was implicated in the crashes.

Whistleblowers have accused the company of taking shortcuts that endanger passengers, a claim that Boeing disputes. A panel convened by the FAA prior to the blowout found shortcomings in the aircraft maker’s safety culture.

Most of the recent problems have been related to the Max, however Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems have also struggled with manufacturing flaws on a larger plane, the 787 Dreamliner. Boeing has suffered setbacks on other programs including its Starliner space capsule, a military refueling tanker, and new Air Force One presidential jets.

Boeing officials have vowed to regain the trust of regulators and the flying public. Boeing has fallen behind rival Airbus, and production setbacks have hurt the company’s ability to generate cash.

The company says it is promoting a positive safety culture, improving worker training, reducing “traveled work” — assembly tasks that are done out of their proper chronological order — and keeping closer tabs on Spirit AeroSystems, including preventing the supplier from shipping defective fuselages to Boeing.

The plane that suffered the door-plug blowout was being repaired because it had damaged rivets when it arrived at a Boeing factory from Spirit.

United States News

Associated Press

Woman holding large knife at Denver intersection shot and killed by police, chief says

DENVER (AP) — Officers shot and killed a woman who was holding a large, hunting-style knife at an intersection in downtown Denver on Sunday, police said. Officers used a Taser on the woman twice but she began advancing toward them as they tried to back up from her, Denver police Chief Ron Thomas said a […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

2 killed when vintage plane crashes during Father’s Day event at Southern California airfield

CHINO, Calif. (AP) — Two people were killed aboard a vintage plane that crashed and burst into flames near a Southern California airfield during a weekend Father’s Day event hosted by an air museum, authorities said Sunday. The Federal Aviation Administration said the twin-engine Lockheed 12A crashed shortly after 12:30 p.m. Saturday, just west of […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

2 people seriously injured after small plane crashes near interstate south of Denver

LARKSPUR, Colo. (AP) — Two people were hospitalized with serious injuries after their small plane crashed near Interstate 25 in Colorado on Sunday, officials said. The plane crashed in a field just off I-25 near Larkspur, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Denver, after it apparently hit a sign on the highway, causing it […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Kansas lawmaker’s law license suspended over conflicts of interest in murder case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican Kansas lawmaker who already dropped his re-election campaign last month after he was arrested in a traffic stop has now been barred from practicing law for at least a year for mishandling conflicts of interest in a murder case. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that state Rep. Carl Maughan […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Police identify Michigan splash pad shooter but there’s still no word on a motive

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Authorities on Sunday identified the man who opened fire at a splash pad in suburban Detroit before taking his own life, but his motives remained unknown as investigators worked to determine if he left behind any hint of his plans. Oakland County Sheriff’s spokesperson Stephen Huber said the shooter was […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

7 shot when gunfire erupts at a pop-up party in Massachusetts

METHUEN, Mass. (AP) — Seven people were shot and wounded, and an eighth was hurt while running away when gunfire erupted at a large gathering of young people in Methuen, Massachusetts, authorities said Sunday. The gunfire began just before 2 a.m. after hundreds of people gathered for a pop-up party organized on social media, officials […]

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Boeing tells federal regulators how it plans to fix aircraft safety and quality problems