Boeing will look at the preliminary results from the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigation of the 737 MAX 9 blowout and decide whether to take more action around the door plug, a Boeing quality official said on Tuesday.
A door plug that flew off an Alaska Airlines MAX 9 jet mid-flight on Jan. 5 appeared to be missing four key bolts, according to the NTSB’s preliminary report released earlier on Tuesday.
“We’re going to look at the changes we’ve already put in place in our factories and other places around the plug specifically,” Doug Ackerman, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of supplier quality, said during an aerospace supply chain conference near Seattle.
He added if Boeing found it had already made the changes needed to address the specific problems raised by the NTSB investigation, “we’re going to look at other places where we need to apply the same rigor.”
The NTSB’s initial findings show the door plug had to be removed and reinstalled at Boeing’s factory in Renton, Washington, and included photo evidence the bolts required to hold the plug in place appeared to be missing.
However, investigators did not weigh in on whether the reinstallation was performed by Boeing or supplier Spirit AeroSystems, which conducted repair work to nearby rivets.
Ackerman declined to provide further comment on the NTSB findings, instead speaking broadly about the need to improve production quality throughout the supply chain.
Boeing said on Sunday it would have to do more work on about 50 undelivered 737 MAX jets, potentially delaying some near-term deliveries, after Spirit discovered two mis-drilled holes on some fuselages.
The overall production defect rate is “pretty steady” despite visible manufacturing errors that have forced additional work to correct them, Ackerman said, adding that most issues do not force Boeing to rework planes.
The U.S. planemaker has traced defects to issues such as employee turnover, financial instability, or new work taken on by a supplier. Boeing is working with some companies to develop inspection plans that can cut down on defective parts moving up the supply chain, Ackerman said.
After one conference attendee asked what Boeing was doing to incentivize suppliers, Ackerman said the planemaker was willing to help suppliers “where we can” by providing solutions such as new technology or a change in contract terms.
“I hope we all have the same incentive … the criticality of everything we put on the airplane to make it operate like it needs to and to make it safe,” he said.
First Published: Feb 08 2024 | 12:21 AM IST