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Boeing given urgent deadline to meet safety standards as planes grounded

Simon Calder’s Travel

Boeing must develop a comprehensive plan to address “systemic quality-control issues” within 90 days, the head of the US Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday, after a mid-air emergency last month sparked renewed safety concerns.

The head of the FAA demanded the plan in a statement critical of the planemaker following an all-day meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun on Tuesday.

“Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements,’ FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said. “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.” 

Calhoun said in a statement Boeing‘s leadership team was “totally committed” to addressing FAA concerns and developing the plan.

“We have a clear picture of what needs to be done,” Calhoun said. “Boeing will develop the comprehensive action plan with measurable criteria that demonstrates the profound change that Administrator Whitaker and the FAA demand.”

Boeing has scrambled to explain and strengthen safety procedures after a door panel detached during a January 5 flight on a brand new Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9, forcing pilots to make an emergency landing while passengers were exposed to a gaping hole 16,000 feet above the ground.

Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday the Justice Department is scrutinizing the Alaska Airlines MAX 9 blowout to determine if it falls under a 2021 deferred-prosecution agreement over two fatal 737 MAX 8 crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people.

If prosecutors determine the MAX 9 blowout is a breach of that agreement, Boeing could face criminal liability, the report said, citing an unidentified source.

Boeing said last month the DOJ was currently considering whether the company fulfilled its obligations under the agreement. The Justice Department declined to comment on Wednesday.

Boeing shares fell 1% in after-hours trading.

A section of the Boeing 737-9 Max that lost a panel in flight, in Portland

Boeing‘s production rate has been capped by the FAA and its operations closely scrutinized by lawmakers and customers following the Jan. 5 incident. The new FAA statement raises fresh questions about how long the production rate freeze will last.

Whitaker said Boeing‘s plan must incorporate…

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