Updated May 30, 2024 - Economy

Boeing submits safety improvement plan to federal regulators

The fuselage of a Boeing 777-9 jetliner aircraft in Dubai in November 2023.

The fuselage of a Boeing 777-9 jetliner aircraft in Dubai in November 2023. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images

Boeing gave federal regulators a plan for how it will resolve safety problems that plague its production processes and pose potential risks for travelers, the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday.

Why it matters: Boeing was ordered earlier this year to draft an improvement plan within 90 days after federal inspections found serious issues at one of the world's largest aerospace manufacturers.

Catch up quick: The federal inspections were initiated after one of its 737 MAX 9 jets experienced a mid-flight door plug blowout in January.

  • In its audit, the FAA specifically found issues in Boeing's manufacturing process control, parts handling and storage, as well as product control.
  • Preliminary findings from the National Transportation Safety Board earlier this year indicated that missing bolts likely contributed to the door plug accident.

What they're saying: FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker confirmed Boeing submitted the plan Thursday but stressed it does not end the administration's increased oversight on the company.

  • Whitaker said Boeing will not be able to increase its production of 737 MAX 9 jets until it follows through with the plan and meets certain unspecified metrics set by the FAA.
  • Boeing developed its safety plan over the past 90 days with "detailed input" from the FAA, the agency said in a press release Thursday.
  • "This roadmap is necessary to reset the safety culture at Boeing," it added.

Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun said in a statement on Thursday that some of the actions laid out in the plan, the full details of which were not released publicly, are underway.

  • "It is through this continuous learning and improvement process that our industry has made commercial aviation the safest mode of transportation," Calhoun said. "The actions we are taking today will further strengthen that foundation."

State of play: The incident renewed federal scrutiny on Boeing's supply chain, manufacturing processes and company culture.

  • In the aftermath of the blowout, whistleblowers within the company have alleged there are safety issues with other Boeing aircraft. The company has disputed the allegations.
  • The federal government has opened additional investigations into its production process for other planes, as well.

The big picture: It's unclear if Boeing will release the details of its safety plan to the public or submit it only to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

  • The Department of Justice (DOJ) said earlier this month that Boeing breached its obligations under a 2021 agreement that allowed it to avoid criminal prosecution for two fatal 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed a combined 346 people.
  • The breach could expose the company to criminal liability, though the DOJ has yet to say how it will proceed.

Go deeper: Boeing isn't grounding airline reputations

Editor's note: This story has been updated with news of Boeing's plan submitted to federal regulators and a statement from the company.

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