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FAA will monitor production of Boeing's 737 MAX 9

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A US Transportation Safety Board inspector observes the sign torn off on the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9.

Radio-Canada

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The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has decided to control the production of Boeing's 737 MAX 9 jetliners and the company's parts suppliers, it said. announced Friday in a press release.

The FAA thus intends to assess Boeing's compliance with its approved quality procedures.

It also announced that it would strengthen its monitoring of problems reported during flights by 737 MAX 9s.

Finally, it will also examine the safety risks linked to the delegation of inspection power to company employees, a practice that members of the American Congress had already criticized after the two Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes in 2018 and 2019.

It plans to outsource these functions to an independent third party, a technical, non-profit organization that would handle inspections and quality system.

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These decisions come following the detachment of a panel from a 737 MAX 9 during an Alaska Airlines flight, shortly after takeoff from the Portland airport, in Oregon, on January 5, a incident which caused no serious injuries.

Thursday, the American agency announced the opening of an investigation to verify that Boeing had assured that the fuselage panel was safe and manufactured in accordance with the design approved by regulators.

It is time to reexamine the delegation of authority and assess the associated safety risks, argued Mike Whitaker, who was nominated by the U.S. Senate as the new head of the FAA last October.

The immobilization of the 737 MAX 9 and the multiple problems linked to the production records in recent years require us to examine all options to reduce risk.

A quote from FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker

We know there are production issues, there have been issues in the past, but it continues, Mr. Whitaker also told the channel of American television CNBC. This is a brand new device, just coming off the production line, and we suspect there are other manufacturing issues.

Boeing said Thursday it would cooperate with the FAA's investigation, which focuses on panels used to fill slots originally intended for emergency exits on the Boeing 737 MAX 9.

When their number is sufficient in relation to the number of seats in the aircraft, these emergency exits are blocked and replaced by a panel, like the one which is detached in mid-flight from the cabin of the Alaska Airlines plane.

These panels are supplied by a Boeing subcontractor, Spirit AeroSystems, to which the FAA will extend its inspection. Alaska Airlines and United have both reported having found loose bolts in these locations in other 737 MAX 9 aircraft. Boeing 737 MAX 9s until Sunday. The airline had to cancel around 20% of its daily flights after deciding to ground the 65 aircraft of this type that make up its fleet.

Earlier this week, Boeing CEO David Calhoun told his employees that the company owns up to its mistakes and that something like this could never happen again.

With information from Associated Press and Reuters

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