Updated Apr 24, 2024 - Economy

Boeing can't boost 737 MAX production without improving quality, Buttigieg says

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaking in Arlington, Virginia, on April 24.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaking in Arlington, Virginia, on April 24. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Boeing must comply with a Federal Aviation Administration mandate to address quality-control issues before it can increase production in its troubled 737 MAX jets, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Federal inspections of Boeing facilities revealed several issues with its jet production process after one of its 737 MAX 9 jets experienced a mid-flight door plug blowout.

Catch up quick: After the blowout in January, the FAA told Boeing, one of the world's largest aerospace manufacturers, it would not let the company expand 737 MAX production.

  • The FAA later gave the company 90 days to address quality-control issues before it can receive expansion approvals.

What they're saying: Buttigieg said Wednesday Boeing is about halfway through that 90-day period to meet the FAA's expectations.

  • He said the company won't be allowed to increase production until it has shown the FAA it "can do it safely."

Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun, who is stepping down from his positions at the end of this year, said in an earnings call on Wednesday that the company has started work on a 90-day plan.

  • "We completed our 30-day review and we're regularly checking in with the FAA as we complete our 90-day plan," he added.

By the numbers: FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker told Reuters in March that Boeing is currently allowed to produce 38 of the 737 MAX 9s but its actual production numbers are lower than that.

The big picture: The Transportation Department and the FAA has recently received criticism from current and former aviation officials for not sufficiently increasing scrutiny of Boeing's production process after the 2018 and 2019 737 MAX 8 crashes that killed 346 people.

Go deeper: Boeing whistleblower takes aircraft flaw allegations to Senate investigators

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Calhoun.

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