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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced an increased oversight of Boeing, including audits of its production processes, following a midair emergency on an Alaska Airlines flight last week. The incident, which occurred on a January 5th flight from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California, involved the blowout of an emergency exit door on a Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft.
The FAA’s announcement detailed plans to audit the Boeing 737-9 MAX production line and its suppliers to assess Boeing’s adherence to approved quality procedures. The findings of this audit will determine the need for further actions, possibly including additional audits.
FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker emphasized the importance of reducing risks, stating, “The FAA is exploring the use of an independent third party to oversee Boeing’s inspections and its quality system.”
An investigation launched on Thursday by the FAA seeks to determine whether Boeing has complied with safety regulations. The agency stressed the seriousness of the incident, noting, “This incident should have never happened and it cannot happen again.” The FAA is investigating Boeing’s compliance with design approvals and safety operation conditions.
Boeing’s CEO, Dave Calhoun, has committed to fully cooperating with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board investigations. He acknowledged the severity of the incident, vowing to commit to transparency and corrective measures. “We’re going to approach this, No. 1, acknowledging our mistake with 100 percent and complete transparency every step of the way,” Calhoun stated.
Following the incident, approximately 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft in the US were grounded on January 6th. The FAA has clarified that the resumption of service for these aircraft will be dictated by the flying public’s safety, not by deadlines.