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Hole in the ship's side: close to disaster

Photo: Ntsb / REUTERS

The aircraft manufacturer Boeing must present the US regulatory authority FAA with a convincing plan to solve its “systematic quality assurance problems” within 90 days.

"Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements," said FAA boss Mike Whitaker in Washington.

It's about fundamental changes that the leadership of the US company has to take care of in the long term.

"We will hold them accountable for every step they take."

The aviation security authority is drawing the conclusions from an incident at the beginning of January.

At that time, part of the cabin wall, behind which the emergency exit is located, fell out of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX-9 shortly after take-off from Portland at an altitude of almost five kilometers.

It then turned out that four bolts were missing from the cabin door.

The FAA summoned Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun to an all-day meeting on Tuesday.

The Airbus rival has long been the focus of authorities since two Boeing crashes in 2018 and 2019 claimed the lives of 346 people.

At that time, too, quality assurance at Boeing was criticized, but also the FAA's certification processes.

»Inadequate and contradictory implementation«

In a report presented at the beginning of the week, a committee of experts sharply criticized the safety precautions in Boeing's production.

The company suffered “from an inadequate and contradictory implementation (...) of a positive safety culture,” it said.

The FAA commissioned the report over a year ago – well before the Alaska Airlines incident.

The experts said this increases concerns that not all Boeing employees think enough about safety.

The aircraft manufacturer's customers also openly criticize the quality assurance.

Some of them - including Alaska Airlines - have announced that they will take a close look at all aircraft themselves before they leave the Boeing factory.