Boeing Has Put Production Over Safety, FAA Head Says Amid 737 Controversies

Published 24 days ago
By Forbes | Antonio Pequeño IV
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(Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

TOPLINE

Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Whitaker criticized Boeing’s safety culture in an interview with NBC, arguing the company has prioritized production rather than safety, the latest criticism levied at the aircraft manufacturer following a January incident in which a Boeing 737 MAX 9 door plug blew out in the middle of an Alaska Airlines flight.

KEY FACTS

Whitaker told NBC anchor Lester Holt in an interview preview (the interview is set to air on “NBC Nightly News” at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday) that Boeing’s priorities have “been on production and not on safety and quality,” citing a culture survey of Boeing and the FAA’s audit into the company.

Whitaker said the FAA’s focus is to shift Boeing’s attention to safety and quality.

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When asked if certain protocols weren’t being met in terms of Boeing’s airplane production, Whitaker said the company’s process was “not what you would’ve expected if safety is the first priority,” adding if aircraft company procedures and production don’t make for a safe experience, “then the whole system is not working the way it should.”

Boeing didn’t immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment.

KEY BACKGROUND

Boeing has been under regulatory scrutiny since January over the Alaska Airlines door plug incident, which triggered an investigation into Boeing and a production halt of Boeing 737 MAX airplanes. An NTSB report found four bolts designed to secure the door plug were missing after a repair job was completed that required the plug to be opened. An FAA audit of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems found non-compliance issues in Boeing’s manufacturing process control, parts handling and storage, and product control. The company has faced safety controversies in the past: In 2019, all 737 MAX planes were ordered out of the sky for over a year after two jets crashed, separate incidents linked to a questionable flight control system.

FURTHER READING

NTSB Says It’s ‘Absurd’ Boeing Still Hasn’t Provided 737 Max Information For Investigation (Forbes)

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