Boeing's 737 MAX Troubles Deepen: FAA Freezes Production Growth Over Safety Issues

Boeing’s 737 MAX Troubles Deepen: FAA Freezes Production Growth Over Safety Issues

The FAA just cracked the whip, halting Boeing’s plans to expand 737 MAX production. Considering the aircraft’s history, I can’t say I blame them. Consumer trust needs to be earned back before pumping more planes off the assembly line.

“It’s not business as usual,” warned FAA head honcho Mike Whitaker. He emphasized they won’t approve any requests for more MAX planes until Boeing fixes the glaring quality control issues that keep popping up.

The latest doozy happened in early January – a fuselage panel straight up blew out during an Alaska Airlines flight! Thankfully it landed safely, but talk about rattling nerves.

This came right as Boeing geared up to increase output in Renton and open a new Everett line. Back to the drawing board – those plans are grounded until further notice.

Now this doesn’t impact the MAX 9 returning to the skies after passing inspections. Both United and Alaska should have them operating limited commercial runs this week.

But Whitaker did drop a bomb, saying FAA staff will now directly oversee operations on-site at Boeing factories rather than occasional audits. “We’re shifting gears,” he confirmed.

Even more embarrassing, an anonymous employee leaked concerns about damaged rivets around exit doors that may have been improperly repaired. Of course, actually logging the problems in Boeing’s system would’ve slowed things down. And we can’t have that now can we?

CEO Stan Deal did issue a formal apology for lapses that “significantly disrupted” customers and crew. They’re pushing the pause button on production to focus on quality assurance. An independent review led by a retired Navy admiral won’t hurt either.

Still though, with the stock down 6%, Senate hearings looming, and regulators peering over shoulders, confidence remains shaky.