Boeing promises changes after poor grades in govt. audit of manufacturing quality

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Responding to a US government audit, Boeing said Tuesday that it would work with employees found to have violated company manufacturing procedures to make sure they understand instructions for their jobs.

The aircraft maker detailed its latest steps to correct lapses in quality in a memo to employees from Stan Deal, president of Boeing’s commercial plane division.

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The memo went out after the Federal Aviation Administration finished a six-week review of the company’s manufacturing processes for the 737 Max jetliner after a panel blew off one of the planes during an Alaska Airlines flight in January.

The FAA reviewed 89 aspects of production at Boeing’s plant in Renton, Washington, and found the company failed 33 of them, according to a person familiar with the report.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that have not been publicly released – although they were reported earlier by The New York Times, which saw a slide presentation on the government’s audit.

“The vast majority” of violations found by the FAA involved workers not following Boeing’s approved procedures, Deal said in his memo.

Deal said the company will take remedial steps that include “working with each employee noted with a non-compliance during the audit to ensure they fully understand the work instructions and procedures.”

Boeing will also add weekly compliance checks for all work teams in the Renton factory, where Max jets are assembled, he said.

Deal acknowledged a recent conclusion by a panel of government and industry experts that found Boeing’s procedures for ensuring safety were too complicated and changed too often.

“Our teams are working to simplify and streamline our processes and address the panel’s recommendations,” he told staff.

Boeing faces a Justice Department investigation into whether its recent problems — including the January 5 blowout of an emergency door panel from an Alaska Airlines jet that had taken off from Portland, Oregon — violate terms of a settlement the company reached in 2021 to avoid criminal prosecution after two crashes of Max jets in 2018 in Indonesia and 2019 in Ethiopia killed 346 people.

Separately on Tuesday, Boeing reported that it received orders for 15 jetliners in February and delivered 27 planes, including two Max jets each to Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.

TD Cowen analyst Cai von Rumohr called the deliveries “anemic” but not surprising because of increased FAA scrutiny of the company.

The slowdown in deliveries is putting Boeing farther behind European rival Airbus, which delivered 49 planes last month, and becoming increasingly frustrating for airlines.

Southwest said it might have to reduce its growth, as it now expects to receive fewer Max jets than it planned because of Boeing’s struggles.

Shares of Arlington, Virginia-based Boeing Co. fell more than four percent in afternoon trading.

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