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F.A.A. Audit of Boeing’s 737 Max Manufacturing Discovered Dozens of Points

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A six-week audit by the Federal Aviation Administration of Boeing’s manufacturing of the 737 Max jet discovered dozens of issues all through the manufacturing course of on the aircraft maker and one in every of its key suppliers, in accordance with a slide presentation reviewed by The New York Occasions.

The air-safety regulator initiated the examination after a door panel blew off a 737 Max 9 throughout an Alaska Airways flight in early January. Final week, the company introduced that the audit had discovered “a number of cases” through which Boeing and the provider, Spirit AeroSystems, didn’t adjust to quality-control necessities, although it didn’t present specifics in regards to the findings.

The presentation reviewed by The Occasions, although extremely technical, affords a extra detailed image of what the audit turned up. For the reason that Alaska Airways episode, Boeing has come beneath intense scrutiny over its quality-control practices, and the findings add to the physique of proof about manufacturing lapses on the firm.

For the portion of the examination targeted on Boeing, the F.A.A. carried out 89 product audits, a sort of overview that appears at features of the manufacturing course of. The aircraft maker handed 56 of the audits and failed 33 of them, with a complete of 97 cases of alleged noncompliance, in accordance with the presentation.

The F.A.A. additionally carried out 13 product audits for the a part of the inquiry that targeted on Spirit AeroSystems, which makes the fuselage, or physique, of the 737 Max. Six of these audits resulted in passing grades, and 7 resulted in failing ones, the presentation stated.

At one level throughout the examination, the air-safety company noticed mechanics at Spirit utilizing a resort key card to examine a door seal, in accordance with a doc that describes a few of the findings. That motion was “not recognized/documented/called-out within the manufacturing order,” the doc stated.

In one other occasion, the F.A.A. noticed Spirit mechanics apply liquid Daybreak cleaning soap to a door seal “as lubricant within the fit-up course of,” in accordance with the doc. The door seal was then cleaned with a moist cheesecloth, the doc stated, noting that directions had been “obscure and unclear on what specs/actions are to be adopted or recorded by the mechanic.”

Spirit didn’t instantly remark when requested by The Occasions in regards to the appropriateness of utilizing a resort key card or Daybreak cleaning soap in these conditions.

Boeing didn’t instantly touch upon the outcomes of the audit. In late February, the F.A.A. gave the corporate 90 days to develop a plan for quality-control enhancements. In response, its chief govt, Dave Calhoun, stated that “we now have a transparent image of what must be finished,” citing partially the audit findings.

Boeing stated this month that it was in talks to accumulate Spirit, which it spun out in 2005. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for Spirit, stated on Monday that the corporate had obtained preliminary audit findings from the F.A.A. and deliberate to work with Boeing to handle what the regulator had raised. Mr. Buccino stated the corporate’s objective was to scale back to zero the variety of defects and errors in its processes.

“In the meantime, we proceed a number of efforts undertaken to enhance our security and high quality packages,” Mr. Buccino stated. “These enhancements concentrate on human elements and different steps to reduce nonconformities.”

The F.A.A. stated it couldn’t launch specifics in regards to the audit due to its ongoing investigation into Boeing in response to the Alaska Airways episode. Along with that inquiry, the Nationwide Transportation Security Board is investigating what induced the door panel to blow off the aircraft, and the Justice Division has begun a legal investigation.

In the course of the F.A.A.’s examination, the company deployed as many as 20 auditors at Boeing and roughly half a dozen at Spirit, in accordance with the slide presentation. Boeing assembles the 737 Max at its plant in Renton, Wash., whereas Spirit builds the aircraft’s fuselage at its manufacturing unit in Wichita, Kan.

The audit at Boeing was huge ranging, masking many components of the 737 Max, together with its wings and an assortment of different techniques.

Most of the issues discovered by auditors fell within the class of not following an “accredited manufacturing course of, process or instruction,” in accordance with the presentation. Another points handled quality-control documentation.

One audit handled the element that blew off the Alaska Airways jet, generally known as a door plug. Boeing failed that examine, in accordance with the presentation. Among the points flagged by that audit associated to inspection and quality-control documentation, although the precise findings weren’t detailed within the presentation.

The F.A.A.’s examination additionally explored how nicely Boeing’s workers understood the corporate’s quality-control processes. The company interviewed six firm engineers and scored their responses, and the general common rating got here out to solely 58 p.c.

One audit at Spirit that targeted on the door plug element discovered 5 issues. A type of issues, the presentation stated, was that Boeing “failed to offer proof of approval of minor design change beneath a technique acceptable to the F.A.A.” It was not clear from the presentation what the design change was.

One other audit handled the set up of the door plug, and it was amongst those who Spirit failed. The audit raised issues in regards to the Spirit technicians who carried out the work and located that the corporate “failed to find out the data obligatory for the operation of its processes.”

Different audits that Spirit failed included one which concerned a cargo door and one other that handled the set up of cockpit home windows.