Analyzing Boeing’s 90-Day Plan

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By the Leeham News Team


June 3, 2024, © Leeham News: There is no timetable for Boeing to gain approval to boost production rates of the 737 MAX. And there is no timetable for the beleaguered company to regain “ticketing” authority for certification of its 737s or 787s. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be calling the shots indefinitely.

Boeing last week presented the FAA with its plan to improve safety. The long PowerPoint, said FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker in a press conference on Thursday, wasn’t released to the public. But press releases from the FAA and Boeing, and an 11-page Executive Summary released by the manufacturer, were in many ways recitations of what’s already been done.

“All those highlighted bullet points posted below were all being done when I worked as a delivery manager 14 years ago,” a retired Boeing employee emailed LNA after reviewing the Boeing press release and Executive Summary.

“Eliminate defects? They’ve been saying that for 100 years. Of course, we want zero defects. The KPIs are nothing new. Been there done that. Nothing’s changed. Nothing.”

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators. Boeing, and Whitaker, highlighted these in statements. There are six KPIs:

  • 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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FAA, Boeing meet; “They must follow through on corrective actions.” Update 3: Boeing’s issues its statement

Update #3: Boeing released its own press release. Here it is:

Boeing’s plan is based on findings from FAA audits, recommendations from the FAA’s ACSAA panel review and feedback from our employees. This Safety and Quality Plan generally fits into four categories of actions:

  • Invest in workforce training
  • Simplify plans and processes
  • Eliminate defects
  • Elevate safety and quality culture

Statement from Dave Calhoun: “After the Jan. 5 accident involving a 737 airplane, we took immediate containment and mitigation actions to ensure airplane safety. We also made the decision to slow production as we took a hard look across every facet of our operations. We listened to our employees, engaged transparently with our regulator, welcomed the findings and recommendations from the FAA’s ACSAA panel review, and invited scrutiny from customers and independent experts. Based on that feedback and oversight, today we presented to the FAA our comprehensive plan to strengthen our safety management, quality system, safety culture and ODA responsibilities.

Many of these actions are underway and our team is committed to executing on each element of the plan. It is through this continuous learning and improvement process that our industry has made commercial aviation the safest mode of transportation. The actions we are taking today will further strengthen that foundation.

We thank Administrator Whitaker and the FAA team for their feedback today and we will continue to work under their oversight as we move forward.”

Statement from Stephanie Pope: “Our plan is built on the feedback of our employees who know best how to design, build and deliver safe, high-quality airplanes. We also incorporated the requirements and feedback from our regulator and welcomed the recommendations from our customers and industry experts.

Based on that feedback, our roadmap includes major investments to expand and enhance workforce training, simplify manufacturing plans and processes, eliminate defects at the source, and elevate our safety and quality culture, along with specific measures to monitor and manage the health of our production system.

We are confident in the plan that we have put forward and are committed to continuously improving. We will work under the FAA’s oversight and uphold our responsibility to the flying public to continue delivering safe, high-quality airplanes. We are also grateful for our customers’ patience as we implement this plan and return to predictable deliveries.”


From: Stephanie Pope
Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2024 11:22 AM
Subject: Our Safety & Quality Plan


***This message is to all Commercial Airplanes employees.***


On January 5, a mid-exit door plug departed one of our 737-9 airplanes mid-flight because of a quality escape that occurred in our factory. We immediately took actions to contain that risk to ensure an accident like that does not happen again. In the months since, we have slowed production to examine every aspect of our airplane production system and develop actions to strengthen our safety management, quality system and safety culture. Today, we submitted a comprehensive action plan to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

As we shared during our All-Team Meeting last month, our Safety & Quality Plan is built on your feedback, along with recommendations from an FAA industry panel, our customers and industry experts, all under the requirements and oversight of our regulator.

Our plan includes actions that fit within four categories with specific measurements to continuously manage the health of our production system (Click on each to learn more).

•               Invest in workforce training

•               Simplify plans and processes

•               Eliminate defects

•               Elevate safety and quality culture

Many of these actions are underway, again powered by your engagement and feedback:

You said We did
Investments in training ✔  Added ~300 hours of training material
✔  Deployed workplace coaches and peer trainers onto the production lines
Simplification ✔  Cut the steps it takes to access build plans
✔  Began simplifying 400 quality-related command media to remove redundancies, contradictions
✔  Cleared more time for managers to spend on factory floor through fewer meetings, tasks
Eliminate defects ✔  Implemented quality inspection and approval of 737 fuselages before shipment from supplier
✔  Re-established daily compliance sweeps
Safety and quality culture ✔  Pilot program to make sure airplanes are “move ready” as way to manage traveled work
✔  Re-launched Employee Involvement Teams
✔  Ordered ~7,500 pieces of tooling and equipment

This is a journey, and we will keep taking action. It is through continuous learning and improvement that our industry has made commercial aviation the safest mode of transportation. We are committed to continuously improve as we build our Boeing, working every day to deliver airplanes to our customers that are safe, high-quality and on-time.

Please continue to Speak Up, and we will work the issues and share updates. We will succeed as a team and execute with safety, quality, and compliance in everything we do.




Update #2: The FAA issued the following press release in the wake of its meeting with Boeing. Boeing is expected to release its own statement today. Additional updates will be made as developments occur.

FAA Continues to Hold Boeing Accountable for Implementing Safety and Production Quality Fixes

Agency meets with company on next steps following submission of their safety roadmap

WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will continue to hold Boeing accountable after reviewing the company’s roadmap to fix its systemic safety and quality-control issues, Administrator Mike Whitaker said Thursday following a three-hour meeting with senior Boeing leaders at FAA headquarters.

In February, Whitaker directed Boeing to develop a comprehensive action plan to set a new standard for safety and how the company does business following the January 5 Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX door plug incident. This roadmap is necessary to reset the safety culture at Boeing, as well as address the findings of the FAA’s special audit and the expert review panel report.

The company has developed this proposal over the last 90 days, with detailed input from the FAA throughout the process. Boeing senior leadership met with the FAA this morning to present the roadmap and discuss future implementation. Boeing is also now required to have a mandatory Safety Management System, which will ensure a structured, repeatable, systematic approach to identify hazards and manage risk.

“In the immediate aftermath of January 5, the FAA took unprecedented steps to increase oversight on Boeing. Over the last 90 days, that has meant everything from more safety inspectors in the facilities to halting production expansion. Today, we reviewed Boeing’s roadmap to set a new standard of safety and underscored that they must follow through on corrective actions and effectively transform their safety culture,” Administrator Whitaker said. “On the FAA’s part, we will make sure they do and that their fixes are effective. This does not mark the end of our increased oversight of Boeing and its suppliers, but it sets a new standard of how Boeing does business.”

Whitaker met Thursday morning with Boeing President and CEO David Calhoun and other senior leaders to discuss next steps to ensure effectiveness.

“I made clear once again that we need to see a strong and unwavering commitment to safety, which must always come first,” Whitaker said. “Systemic change isn’t easy but in this case is absolutely necessary, and the work is never really done when it comes to the safety of the flying public – from Boeing, airlines, or the FAA. But we will hold the company accountable every step of the way to make sure these changes happen.”

The FAA communicated with Boeing officials throughout the last 3 months, including 30- and 60-day check-ins, to ensure they clearly understood the agency’s expectations and were making real-time progress.

The agency required Boeing to provide a detailed update on completed actions as well as mid- and long-term actions Boeing will take. These actions include:

  • Strengthening its Safety Management System, including employee safety reporting
  • Simplifying processes and procedures and clarifying work instructions
  • Enhanced supplier oversight
  • Enhanced employee training and communication
  • Increased internal audits of production system

Additionally, Boeing had to identify the results of completed actions and how it will monitor those and future actions to validate progress and sustain the changes.

To ensure long-term success, the FAA will actively monitor review Boeing’s progress in a variety of ways, including:

  • A team of FAA subject matter experts will continually review Boeing’s progress and the effectiveness of the changes in addressing the audit findings and expert panel recommendations
  • Senior FAA leaders will meet with Boeing weekly to review their performance metrics, progress, and any challenges they’re facing in implementing the changes
  • They also will conduct monthly reviews to gauge Boeing’s progress

The FAA will continue its enhanced oversight of Boeing and its suppliers. This includes:

  • More safety inspectors in the Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems facilities
  • More conversations with company employees to gauge the effectiveness of changes
  • Additional inspections at critical points of the production process and auditing of the production process
  • Monitoring quality system metrics to identify any areas of concern

Additional actions the FAA has taken as part of its aggressive oversight of Boeing and its suppliers include:

  • Immediately grounded 171 Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory.
  • Increased onsite safety inspector presence at Boeing’s facility in Renton, Washington, and Spirit AeroSystems’ facility in Wichita, Kansas.
  • Halted production expansion of the Boeing 737 MAX.
  • Administrator Whitaker visited to Boeing’s factory floor in Renton, Washington, to see the 737 production line and hear directly from Boeing engineers, mechanics, and others about quality control processes. He has actively encouraged all whistleblower complaints, and the FAA investigates every single one.
    • Concluded an audit of Boeing’s production line that went above and beyond FAA’s standard inspection process. The FAA identified non-compliance issues in Boeing’s manufacturing process control, parts handling and storage, and product control. Our audit is complete but it is part of an ongoing investigation, and we cannot release further details.
  • The FAA continues to issue airworthiness certificates for every newly produced Boeing 737 MAX.

Original story:
FAA appears poised to grant Boeing extension on safety report; FAA issues denial (Update)

Update #1: The FAA today said it has not granted an extension for Boeing to submit its report. This story will be updated as developments occur.

By the Leeham News Team

May 29, 2024, © Leeham News: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) appears poised to give Boeing a 90 day extension on the 90 days required to come up with an actionable plan to improve safety on its production lines, LNA is told.

Then, according to this information, Boeing will be given three years to implement whatever is finally approved by the FAA.

Boeing CEO David Calhoun is scheduled to deliver the 90-day plan to the FAA tomorrow.

LNA reported on April 18, 45 days into the 90-day mandate, that Boeing would unlikely meet the FAA deadline.

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SPEEA, Boeing at impasse over safety program, union says

By Scott Hamilton

 April 23, 2024, © Leeham News: Boeing and its engineers/technicians union, the Society for Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) are at an impasse over the proposed creation of a safety program widely used by airlines and other companies, the union says.

The Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) is already in use by Boeing for flight testing. And the touch-labor union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District 751 and Boeing recently adopted an ASAP that is in its early stages of implementation.

ASAP is a program, used across the airline and aerospace industries, by which employees may pass safety concerns to the regulators, in this case, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), without fear of retaliation or retribution.

“The ASAP program was designed for FAA-certified airmen—pilots, mechanics, dispatchers,” said a former Boeing employee whose duties at one time included safety. “In the airline world, nothing gets pre-screened. For a reason! The ASAP program is set up for Boeing flight tests. Production pilots at Boeing operate this way.”

“We have offered SPEEA the same agreement we signed with the IAM and the FAA to strengthen safety, quality, and compliance,” a Boeing spokesperson said in an email to LNA. “We believe it will make a difference in ensuring product safety. This tri-party agreement is modeled after the longstanding and proven Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) which is used in the airlines and elsewhere in Boeing.”

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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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“If something requires us to cease production, we will do that:” FAA

By the Leeham News Team

March 13, 2024, © Leeham News: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering whether to suspend the Production Certificate of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) if it’s not satisfied changes to its safety culture are sufficient, LNA has learned.

FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker. Credit: FAA

It’s the “nuclear option” LNA has written about on previous occasions following the Jan. 5 in-flight accident/explosive decompression of a Boeing 737-9 MAX operated by Alaska Airlines. Already under heightened scrutiny by the FAA, Boeing took yet another in a series of safety blows when a special panel of experts appointed by the FAA to independently review Boeing’s safety culture issued a scathing report on Feb. 26.

The FAA levied fines—and suspended some of them—for previous safety violations 36 times, according to a tracking website. And despite pledges and actions taken to improve safety following the 2018-2019 MAX crisis, Boeing still has fallen short.

Now, with an intensive FAA audit of the 737 production line, the FAA yet again found lapses. The FAA on Feb. 29 gave Boeing 90 days to come up with an actionable plan and shape up. It did not say what would happen if Boeing either fails to produce an acceptable plan or fails to implement it satisfactorily.

And, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chair complained Boeing is withholding information in the investigation into the Alaska Airlines MAX 9 accident.

The ultimate option is to suspend the Production Certificate that authorizes Boeing to build commercially-based airliners. Such a move would have huge political and economic implications, however.

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Bjorn’ s Corner: New aircraft technologies. Part 47. MSG-3 Maintenance

By Bjorn Fehrm

February 2, 2024, ©. Leeham News: We are discussing the different phases of a new airliner program. After covering the Design and Production, we now look at the Operational phase of a new airliner family.

For the operational phase, the airplane must pass scrutiny for Continued Airworthiness. The biggest item in a regulator’s Instructions for Continued Airworthiness is the required Maintenance program to keep an airliner airworthy. We started last week with how maintenance went from ad-hoc to a Hard Timed maintenance program in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Figure 1. The maintenance manual for the Boeing 747. Source: Boeing.

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Bjorn’ s Corner: New aircraft technologies. Part 44. Operation and Continued Airworthiness

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 5, 2024, ©. Leeham News: We are discussing the different phases of a new airliner program. After covering the Design and Production, we now look at the Operational phase of a new airliner family.

For the customer, the design and production are exciting and interesting, but it’s the information and services around the operational phase (Fleet Support in Figure 1) of the airliner that are most important to the airline customer.

Figure 1. The development plan for a new airliner. Source: Leeham Co.

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The Exception to the Green Propulsion Rule

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By Bjorn Fehrm

November 30, 2023, © Leeham News: The interest in Green alternative propulsion for airliners started in earnest at Farnborough Air Show 2014, where Airbus flew the E-Fan battery-electric aircraft. What followed was a dense stream of alternative propulsion airliner projects.

They all have in common that nothing much has come out of them. We have a Pipistrel two-seat trainer that can fly for 50 minutes on batteries, but not much else. More elaborate projects have wide slips in their plans, and nine years later, we lack real prototypes for all projects.

We have functional models flying for nine-seat hybrids and 19/30-seat hydrogen fuel cell aircraft that swap one engine for a Green alternative. Of the latter, there is one project that stands out from the rest. It has shown real progress over the last years and has realistic plans for a 55-seat hydrogen airliner that can be operational in three to four years.

We will analyze why the Universal Hydrogen ATR fuel cell project is the exception to the “Green Propulsion Rule,” that nothing comes out of all plans, and why it could be the first Green Propulsion airliner, ending a 10-year draught.

Figure 1. The Universal Hydrogen Dash 8-300 functional demonstrator. Source: Universal Hydrogen.

  • A Green Propulsion project means the airliner does not use hydrocarbon-burning (Kerosene or SAF) gas turbines.
  • The project that breaks the rule that nothing seems to reach practical use this side of 2030 is the Universal Hydrogen ATR project.

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Growing Opposition to ALPA’s Attack on Regionals

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Kathryn B. Creedy


May 15, 2023, © Leeham News: Using the same tired arguments, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) on May 5 urged the Department of Transportation to reject SkyWest’s year-old proposal to create a Part 135 public charter under Part 380 of the Department’s regulations to serve Essential Air Service (EAS) markets.

Credit: Republic Airways

ALPA, in a letter co-signed by nine other unions, claimed SkyWest Charter is a backhanded attempt to bypass the 1,500-hour pilot experience rule. The airline says its proposal is to continue serving most of its EAS points under the same regulations governing other EAS carriers. Further, it attacked the public charter rule objecting to JSX operations, a catalyst for engaging the business aviation against the union.

ALPA may be skating on thin ice, not realizing the 1,500-hour rule is increasingly irrelevant given statements on Capitol Hill favoring pilot training reform and the popularity of the EAS program among legislators.

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