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Boeing given 90 days by FAA to come up with a plan to improve safety and quality of manufacturing

The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday it’s giving Boeing 90 days to come up with a plan to fix quality problems and meet safety standards for building planes after a panel blew off a brand-new Boeing 737 Max jetliner last month.

The agency said the directive followed all-day meetings Tuesday with top Boeing officials at FAA headquarters in Washington.

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

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Boeing CEO David Calhoun said that “we have a clear picture of what needs to be done” because of company and independent reviews. “Boeing will develop the comprehensive action plan with measurable criteria that demonstrates the profound change that Administrator Whitaker and the FAA demand.”

The FAA did not indicate what action it might take if Boeing fails to meet the 90-day deadline.

The FAA is currently completing an audit of assembly lines at the factory near Seattle, where Boeing builds planes like the Alaska Airlines 737 Max that suffered a door-panel blowout on Jan. 5. Investigators say bolts that help keep the panel in place were missing after repair work at the Boeing factory.

The incident has raised scrutiny of Boeing to its highest level since two crashes of Boeing 737 Max jets in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people.

Whitaker toured the 737 factory two weeks ago. He met with FAA inspectors who are reviewing Boeing’s operations and talked with Boeing engineers and mechanics about safety issues, according to the FAA.

This week, a panel of industry, government and academic experts issued a report that found shortcomings in the safety culture at Boeing, which the company says it has been working to improve. Earlier this month, Boeing replaced the executive who had overseen the 737 program since early 2021 and said it was increasing inspections at the 737 plant in Renton, Washington.

The Boeing Co. is based in Arlington, Virginia.