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Boeing 737 Max 9: new trouble with regulators

Photo: Lindsey Wasson / dpa / AP

Following an investigation, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has denounced quality assurance deficiencies at Boeing.

In the commercial aircraft division, for example, an FAA commission did not find a uniform and clear way for employees to report quality defects.

"Employees did not understand how to use the different reporting systems - and which system they should use and when," said a report published on Monday.

Employees also avoided formal procedures and were more likely to report problems to their superiors.

After discussions with the workforce, doubts arose as to whether there would be no need to fear negative consequences for internal reports of quality problems.

The commission expressed concern that Boeing workers could be discouraged from reporting problems.

Overall, there is confusion among employees about their role in safety management because procedures and training are complex and constantly changing.

As part of the investigation, the commission also asked Boeing to demonstrate that safety was a top priority.

But documents, surveys and conversations with employees have not shown that Boeing is as fundamentally committed to the goal as the company claims, it said.

Boeing emphasized that it had supported the FAA Commission in its work and had already taken measures to improve the quality culture.

The report will be evaluated and conclusions drawn for further measures.

The aircraft manufacturer is under increased pressure to improve quality controls after a dramatic incident.

At the beginning of January, a part of the fuselage of a virtually new 737 Max 9 with more than 170 people on board broke off shortly after takeoff while climbing.

No one was seriously injured in the incident - as it happened, the two seats directly at the opening were empty.

The accident investigation authority NTSB assumes that fastening bolts were missing from the part.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun took responsibility for the error.

Mistakes cost billions

The FAA Commission emphasized that investigating individual incidents was not part of its duties.

But the problems that came to light during their work increased their concerns.

The investigation began in March 2023.

Boeing came under fire five years ago after two Max planes crashed, killing 346 people.

The problem lay in assistance software.

Authorities around the world therefore imposed flight bans on the type: from March 2019, Max aircraft were not allowed to take off for more than a year and a half and were only permitted again after technical improvements.

The debacle cost the manufacturer billions.