The Federal Aviation Administration’s top official plans to tell a House panel Tuesday that the agency will step up its oversight of ground presence in aircraft manufacturing.
The official, Mike Whitaker, will appear before ruling a month after a door panel exploded from a Boeing 737 Max 9 while it was in flight, raising new questions about Boeing’s quality control practices, as well as on the surveillance of the aircraft manufacturer by the FAA.
“In the future, we will have more troops on the ground closely scrutinizing and monitoring production and manufacturing activities,” Mr. Whitaker plans to say in testimony before the Committee on Aviation Subcommittee. transportation and infrastructure of the House of Representatives, according to extracts published by his agency.
“Boeing employees are encouraged to use our FAA hotline to report any safety concerns,” Mr. Whitaker plans to say. “And we will consider the full extent of our enforcement authority to ensure that Boeing is held accountable for any non-compliance.”
The episode with the door panel, known as a door jam, occurred on an Alaska Airlines flight shortly after it took off from Portland, Oregon, on January 5. The FAA quickly grounded similar Max 9 planes. At the end of January, he announced that they could resume flying after being inspected.
The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to release its preliminary report on the episode as early as Tuesday.
Over the past month, the FAA has taken a hard line against Boeing, banning the company from increasing production of the 737 Max series until it fixes quality control issues. This is a new crisis for the aircraft manufacturer involving the Max, following two fatal accidents involving Max 8 aircraft in 2018 and 2019.
The door jam episode also sparked scrutiny of the FAA’s track record of monitoring Boeing and its long-standing practice of allowing the aircraft maker’s employees to perform safety work on behalf of the government .