It is the government agency’s response to the door plug incident on Alaskan Airline flight on Jan. 5.

In a press release on Jan. 24, the FAA opened its indictment of the incident by saying “The Jan. 5 Boeing 737-9 MAX incident must never happen again” and announced “actions to ensure every aircraft is safe.”

The agency announced it will not grant any production expansions of the MAX aircrafts as it has imposed oversight of both Boeing and its suppliers and has approved what it deemed a “thorough inspection and maintenance process that must be performed on each of the grounded 171 Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft.” Only when this process is complete can the aircrafts be eligible to return to service.

The press release quotes FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker saying, “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.”

Whitaker continued, saying, “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.”

After reviewing the data of 40 inspections of the 9 Max fleet and review by a Corrective Action Review Board (CARB), the inspection and maintenance process, bringing the door plugs into compliance with the original design and safe to operate, was approved on Jan. 24.

The process requires:

  • 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

Oversight of Boeing includes:

  • 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.

The FAA press release also described the convening of a “Boeing Safety Culture Review report” in early 2023, including 24 experts to review safety management processes and how they affect Boeing’s safety culture. The FAA said it expects the report within weeks and “the results of the report will also inform the agency regarding future action.”

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