The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on January 25, 2024, barred the troubled planemaker Boeing from expanding its production of its 737 MAX aircraft due to an unacceptable quality issue, an international media agency said. In another decision, the FAA gave its nod to allow 737 MAX 9 which was grounded after a mid-air blowout on Alaska Airlines earlier this month to resume its flight operations after inspections were completed.
This decision came as a relief for US operators Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, which were forced to cancel thousands of flights after the MAX 9 jets were grounded. The airline operators were planning to return the planes for commercial service on January 26 and January 28, 2024.
But the FAA decision to not allow Boeing to expand production of its 737 MAX airlines will have ramifications across the industry. The US planemaker was seeking to increase production of this make to peace with demand in the jet market.
Statement by FAA
“We will not agree to any request from Boeing for an expansion in production or approve additional production lines for the 737 MAX until we are satisfied that the Quality control issues uncovered during this process are resolved, the FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker was quoted as saying an international media agency. “The quality assurance issue we have seen is unacceptable,” Whitaker said. “The exhaustive and enhanced review our team completed after weeks of information gathering gives me the confidence to proceed to the inspection and maintenance phase,” Whitaker said.
Clarifying the order, the FAA told the international media agency “That means Boeing can continue producing at the currently monthly rate, but they cannot increase the rate. The FAA did not provide a clear timeline as to how long the limitation in production expansion would last and mentioned how many planes Boeing can produce this month.
Reaction from Boeing
On its part, Boeing said it would continue to fully and transparently cooperate with the US regulator and follow directions on strengthening quality and safety of the jets. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said in October 2023 that the company planned to produce 38 MAX 737 aircraft per month by the end of 2023.
According to its master schedule which sets the production to 42 jets this month in February, 47.2 in August, 52.5 by February 2025 and October 2025, the international media agency reported. Meanwhile, the United Airlines on January 24, 2024 said that it got its final approval from the FAA to return Boeing 737 MAX 9 to service by January 28, 2024.