The chief US aviation safety regulator is making an unusual public show of concern about Boeing Co.’s manufacturing processes with a visit Thursday to a plant that builds the company’s troubled 787 Dreamliner jets.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s acting administrator, Billy Nolen, plans to meet with agency safety inspectors in South Carolina, the agency said in an emailed statement. He will also meet with Boeing officials at a plant in North Charleston to discuss the company’s new internal safety program that it began in the wake of the two fatal crashes on the 737 Max jets.
Boeing and the FAA last week reached an agreement on how to fix the 787’s manufacturing flaws that had halted most deliveries since late 2020. The agency hasn’t formally approved the release of any individual jets yet, but Bloomberg has reported that deliveries could resume as soon as next week.
“The purpose of the visit is to ensure that the FAA is satisfied that Boeing has taken the appropriate steps to improve manufacturing quality and to guarantee the autonomy of workers who ensure regulatory compliance on the company’s assembly lines,” the FAA said in an emailed release.
The high-profile visit comes as the regulator and planemaker have had a difficult and tense relationship in recent years after design flaws in the 737 Max led to two crashes that killed 346 people in 2018 and 2019. Nolen has been elevated to acting chief of the FAA from his role as head of the agency’s safety division pending Senate confirmation of Phil Washington, whom the Biden administration has nominated to the top post.