FAA faults Boeing over quality control problems

(The Hill) — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is faulting Boeing for quality control problems in the wake of a mid-air blowout earlier this year.

In a statement Monday, the agency said its six-week audit of the aviation giant and Spirit AeroSystems, the manufacturer linked to the incident, found “multiple instances where the companies allegedly failed to comply with manufacturing quality control requirements.”

“The FAA identified non-compliance issues in Boeing’s manufacturing process control, parts handling and storage, and product control,” the FAA said in its statement. “The FAA is providing these details to the public as an update to the agency’s ongoing investigation.”

A spokeswoman told The Associated Press that more details couldn’t be made public because its investigation of Boeing is continuing.

Results of the audit were shared with Boeing and Spirit.

Spirit spokesman Joe Buccino said the company welcomed the FAA audit and will review the findings, the AP reported.

“We are in communication with Boeing and the FAA on appropriate corrective actions,” he said, according to the news wire.

Boeing confirmed last week that it was in talks to rebuy Spirit AeroSystems, which made the fuselage and door plug that blew off mid-flight during an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 flight traveling from Oregon to California. Spirit was separated from Boeing in 2005, per the AP.

“We have been working closely with Spirit AeroSystems and its leadership to strengthen the quality of the commercial airplanes that we build together,” Boeing said Friday in a statement. “We confirm that our collaboration has resulted in preliminary discussions about making Spirit AeroSystems a part of Boeing again.”

Last week, the FAA gave Boeing 90 days to come up with a plan to address its “systemic quality-control” issues in the wake of an audit and expert panel’s findings on the aviation giant.

“Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said after meeting with Boeing CEO and President David Calhoun. “Making foundational change will require a sustained effort from Boeing’s leadership, and we are going to hold them accountable every step of the way, with mutually understood milestones and expectations.”   

In an email, Boeing referred The Hill to a statement Calhoun made in which he said his company has “a clear picture of what needs to be done.”

“Transparency prevailed in all of these discussions,” the Boeing CEO said.

“Boeing will develop the comprehensive action plan with measurable criteria that demonstrates the profound change that Administrator Whitaker and the FAA demand,” Calhoun continued. “Our Boeing leadership team is totally committed to meeting this challenge.”

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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