FAA chief says factory visit shows Boeing’s focus on production over safety

Boeing factory Everett Washington
cpaulfell / Shutterstock

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Michael Whitaker has spoken of a recent visit to Boeing’s facilities in which he saw for himself that the company’s focus appears to be on production rather than safety and quality.  

In an interview on ‘NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt’ on March 19, 2024, the FAA Administrator said that Boeing’s “mindset” around production needs to “shift”.  

“There are issues around the safety culture in Boeing. Their priorities have been focused on production and not on safety and quality. And so, what we are really focused on now is shifting that focus from production to safety and quality,” Whitaker told the NBC show.  

When Whitaker was asked during the interview specifically what he saw at the Boeing facilities that concerned him, his response was stinging of the planemaker. 

“Well, really looking for that indicator of a safety culture. So before going out on the floor of a manufacturing floor, you would expect a thorough safety briefing. That wasn’t part of the process. And then reviewing the floor, expected a lot of conversation around quality assurance and safety and again, that wasn’t there. It was all about production. And there’s nothing wrong with production, but it has to follow safety,” Whitaker explained.  

He added: “I think it really shows how the mindset has been on production, and I think you would have expected at least more of a show of focus on safety and that was lacking.” 

It was not all bad news for Boeing as Whitaker reassured viewers in the interview that “there are no unsafe planes leaving that factory”. However, he said he would not hesitate to shut the factory down if there were any. 

Asked if he was confident Boeing would get its act together, Whitaker said: “I don’t think they have a choice. So, I am confident they will.” 

In a statement to NBC Boeing said: “We are taking significant action to strengthen safety and quality at Boeing. We are focused on demonstrating change and building trust one airplane at a time. This increased scrutiny, whether from ourselves, from the FAA or from others will make us better.” 

A six-week audit recently completed by the FAA of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems found a number of safety issues.    

The audit was actioned by the FAA after Alaska Airlines flight 1282 suffered a rapid decompression when a left mid-cabin door plug separated from the aircraft at 16,000 feet on January 5, 2024.    

Boeing was given 90 days from early March 2024, to respond to the FAA’s audit findings with a comprehensive plan to improve safety.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

AeroTime is on YouTube

Subscribe to the AeroTime Hub channel for exclusive video content.

Subscribe to AeroTime Hub