FAA Chief Plans to Pledge ‘More Boots on the Ground’ at Plane Factories

FAA Chief Plans to Pledge ‘More Boots on the Ground’ at Plane Factories

The Federal Aviation Administration’s top official plans to tell a House panel on Tuesday that the agency will increase its on-site presence to monitor aircraft production.

The official, Mike Whitaker, will appear before lawmakers a month after a door panel from a Boeing 737 Max 9 jet burst in flight, raising new questions about Boeing’s quality control practices as well as the FAA’s oversight of the plane maker.

“Going forward, we will have more troops on the ground to closely inspect and monitor production and manufacturing activities,” Whitaker said in his testimony before the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, according to statements released by his office Excerpts are shown.

“Boeing employees are encouraged to use our FAA hotline to report safety concerns,” Whitaker said. “And we will examine the full extent of our enforcement authority to ensure that Boeing is held accountable for any violations.”

The door panel incident, also known as a door plug, occurred on an Alaska Airlines flight shortly after takeoff from Portland, Oregon, on Jan. 5. The FAA quickly grounded similar Max 9 jets. At the end of January it was said that they could take to the skies again after an inspection.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to release its preliminary report on the incident as early as Tuesday.

Last month, the FAA took a hard line on Boeing, banning the company from expanding production of the 737 Max series until quality control problems are resolved. It’s another Max-related crisis for the aircraft maker, following two fatal crashes involving Max 8 jets in 2018 and 2019.

The door-stuffing incident has also prompted scrutiny of the FAA’s track record in policing Boeing and its long-standing practice of allowing the plane maker’s employees to perform safety work on behalf of the government.

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2024-02-06 10:30:07