FAA Halts Production of Boeing 737 Max Over Quality Control Issues

As part of its ongoing investigation following the January 5 incident in which a portion of an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 blew out shortly after takeoff, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it has halted production expansion of the aircraft.

The Administration, following a six-week audit of both Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems (which makes the fuselage for the Max), “identified non-compliance issues in Boeing’s manufacturing process control, parts handling and storage, and product control,” it said in a statement. This audit was one of the immediate oversight actions the FAA enacted after the incident. FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker informed Boeing’s CEO that the company must address the audit’s findings as part of its comprehensive corrective action plan to fix systemic quality-control issues. Boeing has 9- days to outline its action plan.

This announcement by the FAA came while Boeing and American Airlines shared that the carrier ordered 115 of the 737 Max 10 aircraft. With this agreement, American will more than double its 737 Max order book from about 70 airplanes to more than 150.

In addition to halting production of the 737 Max “to hold Boeing accountable for its production quality issues,” the FAA is also exploring the use of a third party to conduct independent reviews of quality systems and will continue its increased onsite presence at Boeing’s facility in Renton, WA, and Spirit AeroSystems’ facility in Wichita, KS.

Days before the FAA’s announcement, Boeing said it was looking to reacquire Spirit, which it had owned from 1941 to 2005 when Boeing sold its Wichita division to investment firm Onex Corporation.

“We believe that the reintegration of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems' manufacturing operations would further strengthen aviation safety, improve quality and serve the interests of our customers, employees, and shareholders,” Boeing said in its statement. “Although there can be no assurance that we will be able to reach an agreement, we are committed to finding ways to continue to improve the safety and quality of the airplanes on which millions of people depend each and every day.”

Spirit AeroSystems confirmed it is currently engaged in discussions with Boeing about a possible acquisition.

Related Stories

JetBlue, Spirit Terminate Merger Agreement

American Airlines Begins Flights to Jamaica’s Ocho Rios

Air Tahiti Nui Launches New Stopover Program

United to Resume Tel Aviv Flights in March