The head of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said Boeing’s priorities have been on production over safety and quality in an interview about the regulator’s increased oversight of the manufacturer following multiple damning reports about its production lines. 

Speaking to NBC News, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said Boeing did not have a choice but to improve its operations within the 90-day deadline given to the company after two report by the regulator found “systemic” issues with a “confusing” safety culture at the company. 

While Whitaker said he did not think unsafe airplanes were leaving the factory, he was concerned after a visit to the factory by the lack of discussion about safety and the fact that he did not recieve a safety briefing before going on to the production floor. 

The administrator’s comments come as the US aircraft manufacturing giant faces increasing scrutiny over its quality control after a National Transportation Safety Board investigation found that the door plug involved in a blow out incident on 737 MAX 9 plane in January was likely missing securing safety bolts when it left Boeing’s Renton factory. 

A subsequent audit by the FAA also failed the company’s 737 MAX production line on 33 of the 89 tests it conducted and found that instructions given to mechanics at door plug supplier Spirit AeroSystems were “vague and unclear”. 

In response to concerns, Boeing has said it is increasing its own oversight production and completed a shakeup of management for the 737 MAX, with Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal also recently telling employees that the company would be streamlining its processes in response to the audit. 

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Deal also said that Boeing would be implementing weekly compliance checks for 737 work cells, carrying out additional audits of the 737 programme, and conducting new reviews of travelled work within its factories, meaning jobs that have been delayed or take place elsewhere in a factory than originally planned. 

In addition to outlining his concerns about Boeing, which could face production caps if it fails to improve, Whitaker said that he had spoken to United Airlines which has seen a number of incidents with faulty aircraft or aircraft parts in recent months, such as a tire falling off and a plane landing with a panel ripped out. 

He told NBC News’ Lester Holt that the FAA was looking at each incident to see if there was a pattern and would be working with United CEO Scott Kirby, who has also recently been critical of Boeing, on taking heightened measures to address safety.