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Boeing tells FAA how it plans to fix its quality problems

Boeing (BA) submitted a government-mandated report to the Federal Aviation Administration intended to help prevent another unsafe plane from leaving its factory floors.

The FAA in February gave Boeing 90 days to submit the report, asking it to propose overhauls of its aircraft manufacturing and quality control processes.

That order was in response to a midair blowout of a fuselage section that detached from an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 jet in January.

FAA administrator Michael Whitaker held a press briefing Thursday following receipt of Boeing's plan.

"Bottom line, we will continue to make sure every airplane that comes off the line is safe and reliable," he said. "Regardless of how many planes Boeing builds."

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker speaks during a news conference on the FAA's ongoing work to hold Boeing accountable for safety and production quality issues at the FAA headquarters in Washington, Thursday, May 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker at a news conference Thursday. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Boeing is working to assure regulators, lawmakers, investors, and the public that its planes are airworthy while also dealing with lawsuits, investigations, and a production slowdown that is contributing to a cash burn at the aviation giant.

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The FAA report, which Boeing submitted as a PowerPoint presentation, requires the company and its suppliers to submit to enhanced FAA oversight, including more inspections and monitoring.

Boeing must also adopt a new safety management system, a committee to increase employee training, boost employee oversight, and incorporate more input into manufacturing and quality control from users of its aircraft, including pilots.

"I think the flying public should feel that we're increasing our oversight to an appropriate level with Boeing," Whitaker said.

He added that more inspectors had been placed on the floor of Boeing's 737 Max manufacturing facility in Renton, Wash., giving regulators more insight into safety and quality management.

There were no fatalities resulting from the January Alaska Airlines flight, though passengers and crew on board reported physical and emotional injuries.

The mid-air emergency prompted the FAA to put a stop to the expansion of 737 Max production. Those limits contributed to a 40% production rate drop in Max planes in the first quarter compared with the same quarter a year earlier.

Whitaker said the FAA had not yet set specific metrics for increasing production and Boeing had not requested an increase to the current caps.

Boeing has so far implemented part of the changes in its report to the FAA.

FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is seen on the side of a Boeing 737 MAX at the Farnborough International Airshow, in Farnborough, Britain, July 20, 2022.  REUTERS/Peter Cziborra/File Photo/File Photo
A Boeing 737 MAX in 2022. (REUTERS/Peter Cziborra) (Reuters / Reuters)

In an email to Yahoo Finance, a representative for the plane maker said it had held factory-wide "stand down" meetings at its manufacturing facilities across the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Boeing has also created more ways for workers to share and anonymously report safety concerns, added more training hours for its skilled laborers, hired thousands of additional employees, and purchased new tools and equipment.

Boeing's Thursday report isn't final. The FAA is expected to ask the company to make amendments to the proposals within it.

Members of the company’s senior management team took part in Thursday's meeting with the FAA, including outgoing CEO David Calhoun, who has said he will resign from the CEO role at the end of the year, though stay on as a director.

Once the plan is finalized with regulators, it will take years to implement.

Boeing is also currently under criminal investigation by the Justice Department for its role in the blowout.

The Justice Department told a judge this month that Boeing had violated an earlier deferred prosecution agreement that allowed it to avoid criminal prosecution after the two catastrophic crashes of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft in 2018 and 2019.

It is now up to the Justice Department whether to criminally charge Boeing, and it will decide on that question by July 7.

Alexis Keenan is a legal reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow Alexis on Twitter @alexiskweed.

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