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US regulator urges Boeing to commit to “real and substantial improvements”

The head of the American Aviation Agency (FAA) warned on Wednesday that Boeing must commit to making “real and substantial improvements”, after a series of production problems in 2023 and an in-flight incident in January.

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US regulator urges Boeing to commit to “real and substantial improvements”

The head of the American Aviation Agency (FAA) warned on Wednesday that Boeing must commit to making “real and substantial improvements”, after a series of production problems in 2023 and an in-flight incident in January. “I met yesterday (Tuesday) with Boeing boss Dave Calhoun and his management team. My message was clear: Boeing must commit to making real and significant improvements,” posted Mike Whitaker, new head of the FAA, on X.

“We will hold them accountable throughout the process,” he assured. This meeting devoted to safety took place all day at the FAA headquarters in the federal capital Washington, specifies the regulator on the page of its website where it communicates about the incident of January 5.

That day, a cap holder came loose from the cabin of an Alaska Airlines plane shortly after takeoff. There were only a few minor injuries. In the process, the FAA grounded the 171 737 MAX 9s with this configuration and launched an investigation into the manufacturer's quality control.

Mike Whitaker informed Boeing executives Tuesday that they must develop a "comprehensive action plan to address its systemic quality control issues in order to achieve the FAA's non-negotiable safety standards." “Making fundamental changes will require a sustained effort on the part of Boeing management,” said Mike Whitaker, specifying that “steps and expectations were mutually accepted” on Tuesday.

The manufacturer must submit its action plan to the regulator within 90 days, which must incorporate the conclusions of the audit launched by the FAA on its production chain as well as the recommendations of a commission of independent experts whose report was released on Monday. The latter concluded that Boeing's safety system presented shortcomings, notably relating to "complex" procedures which sometimes sowed "confusion" among employees. They issued 53 recommendations to remedy their 27 unsatisfactory findings.

“Boeing must take a fresh look at every aspect of the quality control process and ensure that the company is guided by the principle of safety,” asserted Mike Whitaker. The FAA has frozen the production rate of the 737 MAX, Boeing's flagship plane which wanted to continue increasing it in 2024, until it considers that the manufacturer has made the required changes.

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