Pressure builds on Boeing as DoJ investigates, FAA demands plan within 90 days

NTSB Alaska Airlines plug door

Pressure is building on Boeing following the Alaska Airlines plug door blowout, after the US Justice Department (DoJ) has started looking into looking into the incident.  

According to Bloomberg, the DoJ, which enforces federal law and administers justice in the United States (US), is looking into whether the Alaska Airlines incident violated its 2021 deferred prosecution agreement with Boeing following the 737 MAX fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. 

Under the agreement, Boeing was forced to pay a $2.5 billion settlement and agree to abide by several conditions in the future. The DoJ investigation could leave Boeing liable to criminal prosecution. 

The DoJ is reportedly scrutinizing whether Boeing has breached the agreement that it signed in 2021 following the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashes.  

On February 28, 2024, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also announced that it has conducted an all-day safety discussion with top Boeing officials.  

FAA meeting with Boeing

At a meeting with the Boeing officials, which included CEO and President Dave Calhoun, the aircraft manufacturer was told it must “develop a comprehensive action plan to address its systemic quality-control issues to meet FAA’s non-negotiable safety standards”.    

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

Whitaker told Boeing that he expects the company to provide him with a comprehensive action plan within 90 days that will incorporate the forthcoming results of the FAA production-line audit, which was actioned following the Alaska Airlines incident.  

Boeing was also instructed that it had 90 days to respond to the latest findings from the expert review panel report, which was required by the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act of 2020.   

Boeing’s action plan must include how it will improve its Safety Management System and ensure that the standards are carried through to the company’s suppliers 

“Boeing must take a fresh look at every aspect of their quality-control process and ensure that safety is the company’s guiding principle,” Whitaker said.     

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