FAA chief to meet Boeing in Seattle next week By Reuters

©Reuters. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Whitaker testifies before a House Transportation and Aviation Infrastructure Subcommittee hearing to answer questions related to the January 5 rapid depressurization accident involving a Boeing

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Whitaker will travel to Seattle early next week to meet with Boeing (NYSE:) as the agency reviews the manufacturer’s 737 MAX production process aircraft following an in-flight emergency.

Boeing, which makes 737 MAXs in the Seattle area, was hit by the latest in a series of problems on Jan. 5, when a panel flew off one of its 737 MAX 9 jets in flight. Two sources said Whitaker is expected to visit Boeing’s Renton factory, about nine miles from Seattle, where the 737 is made.

Last month, Whitaker, acting after a cabin panel exploded mid-flight on a new Alaska Airlines MAX 9, took the unprecedented action of blocking Boeing from expanding production of its 737 MAX until had not resolved the quality problems.

“As part of the FAA’s ongoing work to improve safety, Administrator Mike Whitaker will visit the Seattle, Washington, area early next week to hear directly from FAA employees and tour FAA facilities in the area. He will also visit Boeing,” the FAA said. in a statement.

Boeing declined to comment.

The FAA has about 20 inspectors at the Boeing 737 factory in Renton, Washington, and six at Spirit AeroSystems (NYSE:) in Wichita, Kansas, and Whitaker said this week they are about halfway through a six-week audit.

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