FAA announces increase in oversight on Boeing production following Alaska Airlines incident


(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Aviation Administration announced it will take the significant step of increasing its oversight over Boeing and begin an immediate audit of Boeing’s production and manufacturing in the wake of the door plug blowing out of an Alaska Airlines flight last week.

The audit will “evaluate Boeing’s compliance with its approved quality procedures,” the agency said Friday.

The FAA said it will also assess the safety risks around delegated authority and quality oversight — specifically the Organization Designation Authorization program. Under ODA, certain aircraft certification process is delegated to manufacturers like Boeing.

The door plug for the fuselage of a Boeing 737 Max 9 fell off a few minutes after Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 took off from Portland International Airport on Jan. 5, depressurizing the cabin and exposing passengers to open air thousands of feet above ground. No one was seriously injured and the plane landed safely.

FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker said the agency is “exploring” the use of an independent third party to oversee Boeing’s inspections and quality system.

“It is time to re-examine the delegation of authority and assess any associated safety risks,” Whitaker said. “The grounding of the 737-9 and the multiple production-related issues identified in recent years require us to look at every option to reduce risk.”

The FAA outlined three points of increase oversight Friday: an audit involving the Boeing 737 Max 9 production line and its suppliers; increased monitoring of Boeing 737 Max in-service events; and an assessment of safety risks around “delegated authority and quality oversight and examination of options to move these functions under independent, third-party entities.”

The announcement came one day after the FAA said it would investigate Boeing after the door plug incident.

Boeing said in a statement Thursday about the investigation, “We will cooperate fully and transparently with the FAA and the NTSB on their investigations.”

ABC News has reached out to Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems, Boeing’s parts supplier, for comment on the increased oversight announced Friday.

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