Late last night, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it would halt the proposed expansion of the Boeing 737 MAX production line amid improvements needed to quality control.
The regulator has also approved a thorough inspection and maintenance process that must be performed on all 171 units of the airframe affected by the door plug issue that was observed on Alaska Airlines flight AS1282.
Without further ado, let’s get into it…
Measures Placed on the American Planemaker…
The FAA have said that the enhanced maintenance process requires the following:
- An inspection of specific bolts, guide tracks and fittings
- Detailed visual inspections of left and right mid-cabin exit door plugs and dozens of associated components
- Retorquing fasteners
- Correcting any damage or abnormal conditions
On top of this, additional oversight measures have been added onto Boeing, which include:
- Capping expanded production of new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to ensure accountability and full compliance with required quality control procedures.
- Launching an investigation scrutinizing Boeing’s compliance with manufacturing requirements. The FAA will use the full extent of its enforcement authority to ensure the company is held accountable for any non-compliance.
- Aggressively expanding oversight of new aircraft with increased floor presence at all Boeing facilities.
- Closely monitoring data to identify risk
- Launching an analysis of potential safety-focused reforms around quality control and delegation.
Hard-Line Stance, Manufacturer Agrees…
FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker had this to say on the proposed measures implemented onto Boeing:
“We grounded the Boeing 737-9 MAX within hours of the incident over Portland and made clear this aircraft would not go back into service until it was safe”.
“The exhaustive, enhanced review our team completed after several weeks of information gathering gives me and the FAA confidence to proceed to the inspection and maintenance phase.”
“However, let me be clear: This won’t be back to business as usual for Boeing. We will not agree to any request from Boeing for an expansion in production or approve additional production lines for the 737 MAX until we are satisfied that the quality control issues uncovered during this process are resolved.”
“The quality assurance issues we have seen are unacceptable”.
“That is why we will have more boots on the ground closely scrutinizing and monitoring production and manufacturing activities.”
“We will continue to cooperate fully and transparently with the FAA and follow their direction as we take action to strengthen safety and quality at Boeing.”
“We will also work closely with our airline customers as they complete the required inspection procedures to safely return their 737-9 airplanes to service.”
It remains clear that the FAA doesn’t want to take anymore chances when it comes to the Boeing 737 MAX 9, so the additional oversight and production expansion changes should keep the American planemaker in check during this period.
All eyes will be on when the American planemaker will be allowed to handle things on their own again, which could take a long period of time until the regulator is fully satisfied around the quality assurance and safety of these jets.
Alaska Airlines & United Airlines are prepping their aircraft for inspections now the following measures have been approved by the FAA, meaning that the aircraft will be able to return to service in the coming days ahead.
But for now, let’s see how Boeing can respond to a crisis that has once again turned upside down the 737 MAX program.
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