WASHINGTON: Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said Thursday the US planemaker supports the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decision to bar the planemaker from expanding production of its best-selling 737 MAX planes, following “unacceptable” quality issues.
Calhoun told Reuters in a brief interview after a Capitol Hill meeting he supported the FAA decision and added there is “no question” the agency has the authority to impose the production increase restriction. “We all want safe airplanes. This is a safe aeroplane,” Calhoun said, who has further meetings Thursday with senators.
The FAA said the order meant Boeing could continue producing MAX jets at the current monthly rate, but it could not increase that rate. It offered no estimate of how long the limitation would last and did not specify the number of planes Boeing can produce each month.
The FAA said MAX 9 planes could resume flights following inspections and maintenance after the agency grounded 171 MAX 9 planes following a mid-air emergency earlier this month.
“This won’t be back to business as usual for Boeing. We will not agree to any request from Boeing for an expansion in production or approve additional production lines for the 737 MAX until we are satisfied that the quality control issues uncovered during this process are resolved,” FAA administrator Mike Whitaker said in a statement Wednesday.
The ability to resume flying was a relief to US MAX 9 operators Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, which had been forced to cancel thousands of flights and aim to begin returning the planes to service on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
But experts said the FAA’s response to “unacceptable” quality controls following the loss of a door plug at 4,877m on Jan 5 could delay some deliveries of new planes to airlines and hurt suppliers already reeling from an earlier MAX crisis and the pandemic.
In October, Calhoun said the company planned to reach production of 38 MAX planes per month by the end of 2023.