Boeing says employees must take "immediate" action on safety measures

New York, New York - Aeronautics giant Boeing, facing increased scrutiny after a series of safety incidents and manufacturing issues, is directing employees to take "immediate actions" to improve operations, according to a message the company sent to its workforce Tuesday.

Aeronautics giant Boeing, facing increased scrutiny after a series of safety incidents and manufacturing issues, is directing employees to take "immediate actions" to improve operations, according to a message the company sent to its workforce Tuesday.
Aeronautics giant Boeing, facing increased scrutiny after a series of safety incidents and manufacturing issues, is directing employees to take "immediate actions" to improve operations, according to a message the company sent to its workforce Tuesday.  © Patrick T. FALLON / AFP

The guidance, from Boeing's head of commercial aviation Stan Deal, comes after an audit by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – undertaken after a close call on an Alaska Airlines flight in January – found instances of non-compliance at the manufacturer.

"We have used your feedback, and those from our regulator and customers, to take immediate actions to strengthen our safety and quality," Deal said.

"These actions are central to a comprehensive plan we will soon deliver to the FAA," he added, referring to the US regulator's order earlier this month for Boeing to create a framework to address quality control within 90 days.

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According to Deal, "the vast majority of our audit non-compliances involved not following our approved processes and procedures."

To address the issues, management will set up additional training for relevant employees, establish weekly compliance checks, and dedicate a portion of each shift to review procedures and check tools.

These new measures are in addition to the others put in place in recent weeks, including additional inspections.

The FAA audit came in response to a near-catastrophic incident in January when a fuselage panel on a Boeing 737 MAX 9 Alaska Airlines jet blew off mid-flight. No one was seriously injured, but the plane was forced to make an emergency landing with a gaping hole in the cabin.

Of the 89 production process audits conducted by the FAA, Boeing failed 33 of them, the New York Times reported Tuesday, with 97 instances of non-compliance identified.

The concerns included one use of a hotel key card to check a door seal and the use of liquid dish soap as a mechanical lubricant, according to the Times.

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The LATAM Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane that suddenly lost altitude mid-flight a day earlier, dropping violently and injuring dozens of terrified travelers, is seen on the tarmac of the Auckland International Airport in Auckland on Tuesday.
The LATAM Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane that suddenly lost altitude mid-flight a day earlier, dropping violently and injuring dozens of terrified travelers, is seen on the tarmac of the Auckland International Airport in Auckland on Tuesday.  © BRETT PHIBBS / AFP

Deal's letter also addressed the findings of an independent expert commission appointed by the FAA, which found shortcomings with Boeing's safety standards – notably, that they may be too complex and cause confusion among employees.

"Our teams are working to simplify and streamline our processes and address the panel’s recommendations," Deal said while calling on employees to implement certain changes immediately.

"Precisely follow every step of our manufacturing procedures and processes," he urged.

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"We can and should update procedures and processes, but until then, we must adhere to the existing ones."

Employees should also "always be on the lookout for a potential safety hazard or quality escape," Deal added, encouraging them to use the company's internal reporting system to flag concerns when necessary.

Boeing is still facing investigations from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), while the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation.

The company has faced questions following several other potentially dangerous episodes in addition to the Alaska incident, including an engine fire on a Boeing 747 shortly after takeoff from Florida in January.

Last week, a Boeing 777 jetliner bound for Japan had to make an emergency landing shortly after takeoff from San Francisco when a wheel fell off and plunged into an airport parking lot, damaging several cars.

And New Zealand authorities on Tuesday launched an investigation after a Boeing 787 Dreamliner violently lost altitude mid-flight from Sydney to Auckland, injuring a host of terrified passengers.

Cover photo: Patrick T. FALLON / AFP

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