The Boeing 90 day executive summary to the FAA: An analysis

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By the Leeham News Team

June 3, 2024, © Leeham News:  Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration last week released summaries of the company’s plan to fix its safety shortcomings following the Jan. 5 accident of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.

That’s the day a 10-week-old 737-9 MAX saw a door plug blow out at 16,000 ft on take-off from Portland (OR). Nobody died but there were some injuries and damage throughout the cabin and the cockpit occurred. The flight crew made an emergency landing at Portland.

Following this accident, the FAA on Feb. 29 gave Boeing 90 days to come up with yet another plan to address safety and production failures. (Boeing developed plans after the 2018/19 737-8 MAX crashes that killed 346 people.)

In a three-hour meeting on May 31, Boeing CEO David Calhoun and other senior executives outline its latest plan. The FAA’s press release afterward largely was a reaffirmation that it will hold Boeing’s feet to the fire until it is satisfied the safety culture at Boeing changes. There is no timeline for Boeing to implement changes—at least none that was announced.

Boeing released an 11-page Executive Summary that largely outlined steps it has taken to improve safety, and which ones continue. The detailed PowerPoint presentation given to the FAA was not released. Through a spokesperson, the FAA declined to make FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker available for an interview.

A key element of the go-forward plan is a requirement by the FAA that a voluntary Safety Management System (SMS) is now mandatory.

The FAA and Boeing statements released last week drew immediate criticism for lack of detail, repetitive nature of steps already taken, and—given the steps taken in 2019 and 2020—why this is necessary today.

LNA’s news team, which includes former Boeing employees whose duties included safety, reviewed the information announced last week. This is the analysis.

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Boeing releases Executive Summary of FAA plan (Update with FAA comment)

Update: The FAA, responding to a query from LNA about deadlines and milestones, had this to say:

“This is about systemic change, and there’s a lot of work to be done. Boeing must meet milestones and the timing of our decisions will be driven by their ability to do so.  Boeing has delivered a roadmap to change its safety culture, and the FAA will make sure Boeing implements the changes they have outlined. We will not approve production increases beyond the current cap until we’re satisfied they’ve followed through on implementing corrective actions and transforming their safety culture. The FAA will make sure Boeing makes lasting change using all of the tools at our disposal. We need to see a strong and unwavering commitment to safety and quality that endures over time.”

May 30, 2024, © Leeham News: Boeing today released an 11-page executive summary of its plan to the Federal Aviation Administration.

A top-level summary is below.

“A significant component of our Safety & Quality Plan are these six key performance indicators (KPIs) focused on safety, quality and production health,” a spokesperson wrote in an email.

  • Employee proficiency measures share of employees who are deemed proficient in core skills.
  • Notice of Escape (NoE) rework hours measures time performing rework in Boeing’s final assembly facilities to address non-conforming work from its fabrication division and external suppliers.
  • Supplier shortages measures shortages per day from Boeing’s fabrication division and external suppliers.
  • Rework hours per airplane measures time spent performing rework in Boeing’s final assembly facilities.
  • Travelers at factory rollout measures unfinished jobs traveling from Final Assembly
  • Ticketing performance measures quality escapes per ticketed airplane prior to delivery.

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This week Boeing must deliver on safety–again

By the Leeham News Team

Analysis

May 28, 2024, © Leeham News: Boeing’s FAA-mandated plan to improve its safety culture is due this week.

Following the Jan. 5 accident involving Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 and a year-long safety study commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Boeing was given 90 days to come up with a new plan to improve safety procedures.

Boeing’s been down this path before. Following the 2018/19 crashes of two 737-8 MAXes in which 346 people died, Boeing implemented several safety studies and procedures. Flight 1282 demonstrated a shocking lack of results from the earlier efforts.

The FAA on Feb. 29 gave Boeing 90 days to make a realistic plan for addressing the path forward to an acceptable level of quality. This is an exceptionally tall ask given all that has gone wrong in the recent past. It’s unclear if the FAA will release Boeing’s proposal publicly. But LNA’s reporting team, which includes retired Boeing employees whose duties included safety and production, thinks that whatever plan is put forth to the FAA will all boil down to one point, execution. That’s Boeing’s problem today: Failure to execute its production plan as documented in its operation command media.

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Boeing unlikely to meet FAA’s 90-day deadline for new safety program

By Scott Hamilton

April 18, 2024, © Leeham News: Boeing appears unlikely to meet a 90-day deadline to submit a comprehensive plan to address safety concerns, insiders tell LNA.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Feb. 28 gave Boeing three months to address “systemic quality-control issues,” a move sparked by new safety concerns following the Jan. 5 accident of Alaska Airlines flight 1282. A 10-week-old 737-9 MAX was minutes into climb-out from the Portland (OR) airport when a door plug blew out, prompting explosive decompression of the cabin. Nobody died but there were injuries and damage throughout the cabin.

“FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker told Boeing that he expects the company to provide the FAA a comprehensive action plan within 90 days that will incorporate the forthcoming results of the FAA production-line audit and the latest findings from the expert review panel report, which was required by the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act of 2020,” the FAA said in the Feb. 28 press release.


  • Boeing firefighters union rejects contract again; free to strike May 3. See below.
  • SPEEA, Boeing’s engineer and technician union, tells members to start saving for a strike. See below.

“The plan must also include steps Boeing will take to mature its Safety Management System (SMS) program, which it committed to in 2019. Boeing also must integrate its SMS program with a Quality Management System, which will ensure the same level of rigor and oversight is applied to the company’s suppliers and create a measurable, systemic shift in manufacturing quality control.”

Now 45 days later, LNA is told Boeing is unlikely to meet the deadline. Furthermore, Boeing’s engineering and technicians union has had no outreach from Boeing seeking its input into the plan.

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Bjorn’s Corner: New aircraft technologies. Part 51. Wrap up

By Bjorn Fehrm

March 22, 2024, ©. Leeham News: Last week we did the first part of the Wrap-up of our 50 article series about the New Aircraft Technologies that can be used when replacing our present single-aisle airliners.

Now, we summarize the last 25 articles in the series, which covered how to develop, produce, and support a new airliner.

Figure 1. The Program Plan for a new airliner. Source: Leeham Co.

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Pontifications: Boeing violated previous FAA ODA, SMS demands—Been there, done that

March 5, 2024, © Leeham News: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week gave The Boeing Co. 90 days to come up with a real program that has measurable results to fix safety and quality shortcomings.

By Scott Hamilton

The move follows the release on Feb. 26 of a year-long safety audit by a panel of 24 industry experts appointed by the FAA. More than 50 recommendations were made. Much of the focus was on failures in Boeing’s Organization Designation Authority (ODA), the Safety Management System (SMS), and pressure and fear of retaliation of employees who came forward with alerts about safety issues during aircraft production at Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA).

ODAs are employed by Boeing but represent the FAA. The FAA is considering establishing an independent ODA system at Boeing.

In giving Boeing 90 days to come up with a solid safety program, Administrator Mike Whitaker was blunt: “Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements. 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, with mutually understood milestones and expectations.”

Boeing is the top aerospace company with the most fines and number of records, according to the website Violation Tracker. This is for all types of fines, including aviation safety, environmental, worker safety (under the USA’s OSHA), etc. Detail of Boeing’s aviation safety violations is below. Boeing’s number above includes the $2.5bn fine for the 2018-19 MAX crisis. Airbus includes a $500m settlement to the US Department of Justice for ITAR violations. Click on image to enlarge.

But Boeing and the FAA have been down this road before. Boeing and the FAA established the ODA systems ago and the SMS was created in 2019. The FAA previously fined Boeing for failing to follow through on elements of both programs.

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Breaking News: Congressionally-mandate safety study finds flaws at Boeing (Updated with Boeing comment)

Feb. 26, 2024, © Leeham News: A Congressionally-mandated safety review study of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) dropped this morning. The 50-page report of a committee appointed by the Federal Aviation Administration found serious flaws in Boeing’s safety culture despite years of attempts to improve.

LNA is still absorbing the study, which may be downloaded here: Boeing Safety Study by FAA Panel 2-26-24

The Executive Summary is synopsized below.


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Part 2: Reconstituting Boeing’s ODA system

By the Leeham News Team

Analysis

Feb. 21, 2024, © Leeham News: In part one, LNA looked at the Organization Designation Authorization, more commonly known as the ODA, what it is, and why it is so important to industry.

The ODA is an organization that is granted the privilege to operate as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on selected work package types. ODAs are composed of “unit members,” the FAA term for people doing ODA work.

Boeing and many other aerospace companies in the US use ODAs. Airbus uses similar people under a different designation issued by EASA, Europe’s regulator. Boeing’s ODA authority was restricted by the FAA in the aftermath of the 737 MAX crisis that led to the 21-month grounding of the global fleet.

The FAA is reconsidering Boeing’s ODA authority.

There are two types of unit members: Designees and others who do ODA work without formal FAA signature authority.

Credit: Federal Aviation Administration.

An example of how a Type Certification (TC) ODA organization uses these two different talent pools can be seen through the Certification process where detailed analysis done by the group is approved (signed off) by an ODA unit member who is a Designee. The FAA suspended Boeing’s “ticketing authority” for the 737 and 787 following the MAX crisis and quality concerns on the 787 production line. Ticketing authority is one ODA mission.

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Production rates below Boeing’s claim, low supplier confidence

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By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 15, 2024, © Leeham News:   The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may have told Boeing it won’t allow product rate increases on the 737 MAX lines, or the addition of the North Line at Everett (WA) until it’s satisfied production quality is under control.

But as LNA first wrote upon this news, Boeing’s production is well below the currently approved 38 per month. We pointed out that Boeing was consistently struggling last year to roll 31 MAXes out of the factory—and often, the number was substantially below 31.

Sometimes the number of newly produced 737s was less than 20 a month, reports one consultant who tracks the production.

Technically, the FAA can’t stop Boeing from producing more 737s than the 38 per month cap. It doesn’t have this authority, reports Aviation Week. But the FAA is the responsible party for issuing individual aircraft airworthy certificates as the 737s are ready for delivery to airlines and lessors. And, according to AvWeek, the FAA won’t issue more than 38 certificates a month.

The FAA suspended Boeing’s so-called ticketing authority for the MAX before the airplane was recertified following the 21 month grounding beginning in March 2019. This suspension was extended to the 787 when production and quality control problems were discovered at the Charleston (SC) assembly plant.

Several aerospace analysts following Boeing pointed out that Boeing hasn’t produced 38 MAXes a month and, like LNA reported, it’s struggled to meet even the previously advertised rate of 31/mo.

Figure 1. Cirium plotted the actual new production deliveries vs the advertised production rates for Airbus and Boeing single-aisle aircraft.

The consultancy Cirium charted the actual deliveries by Boeing (and by Airbus) for their respective single-aisle aircraft.

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What is an ODA and why is it critical to understand it

By the Leeham News Team

Feb. 14, 2024, © Leeham News: In Congressional hearings last week, the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the agency will retain an outside organization to review whether its oversight of Boeing needs to alter how this is done.

Administrator Mike Whittaker, who has only been on the job a few months, said the FAA may want to change its Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) process that oversees Boeing.

ODA Unit Members (Designees) are Boeing employees who report to the FAA. But for years, highlighted by the first 737 MAX crisis in 2018-19, complaints suggested Boeing exerted undue influence on its Designees to get what it wanted in the development, production, and oversight of its 7-Series airplanes.

Because of that crisis combined with multiple issues with the 787 production facility in Charleston (SC), Boeing’s ODA was suspended.

The FAA also has a problem: Boeing’s ODA was suspended. Congress has a problem: The FAA and Boeing appear to operate too closely together and have lost public trust.

What is an ODA and why does the FAA need to delegate work back to the companies being monitored using Designees? LNA takes a deep dive analysis into the ODA problems at Boeing and what can be done to restore confidence in Boeing, the FAA, Congress, and the flying public. This is the first of two articles.

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