Troubles Mount for Boeing as FAA Grounds Aircraft

by Warren Seah

A recent order from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has dealt a significant blow to aircraft manufacturer Boeing. The grounding of nearly 200 Boeing airplanes adds to the company’s ongoing struggles, as it tries to recover from the previous grounding of its 737 MAX jets in 2019 and 2020.

The FAA order specifically targets 171 Boeing 737 MAX-9 aircraft, which make up the majority of the 214 MAX-9 planes that have been delivered worldwide. This decision comes after a disturbing incident involving an Alaska Air Group plane flying out of Portland, Ore., where a part of the fuselage abruptly detached shortly after takeoff. A passenger who spoke with CNN described the incident, which left a large hole in the side of the airplane.

Notably, the plane involved in the incident was brand-new and had only been in the Alaska Airlines fleet since November.

According to the FAA, this grounding is temporary, and airlines will be required to conduct inspections on each affected 737 MAX-9 aircraft before they are allowed to fly. These inspections are estimated to take between four and eight hours.

This latest incident adds to the already troubling track record of safety issues that have plagued Boeing’s 737 MAX jets, including two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. In August, one of Boeing’s subcontractors, Spirit AeroSystems, disclosed a quality issue related to the fuselages it manufactures for the 737 MAX. Additionally, in late December, the FAA announced that Boeing had asked carriers to inspect all 737 MAX aircraft for loose bolts.

The incident on Friday once again brings attention to the troublesome history of safety concerns surrounding the MAX fleet, potentially unsettling investors who hold shares in Boeing and its subcontractor, Spirit.

Boeing Investigates New Incident Involving 737 MAX-9

Boeing, the aircraft manufacturer, is investigating a new incident involving its 737 MAX-9 model. This comes after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded the entire fleet of 737 MAX planes in 2019 due to fatal crashes.

Although Boeing shares rose by 36.8% in 2023, they still remain significantly below pre-2019 levels. The stock’s closing value on Friday stood at $249, indicating the ongoing impact of the 737 MAX troubles.

Similarly, Spirit shares experienced a decline of approximately 50% following the disclosure of a quality issue in August. Although the stocks have since rebounded, concerns among investors may resurface due to this recent incident.

The aircraft’s ongoing issues have raised doubts about Boeing’s decision-making and judgment. Previous reports highlighted miscalculations and management misjudgments made by the company during the plane’s design process. A Congressional report released in 2020 revealed concerning patterns in Boeing’s technical decision-making.

In March 2019, the FAA grounded both the 737 MAX-8 and 737 MAX-9 models after two fatal crashes involving the slightly shorter 737 MAX-8 aircraft. In late 2020, the FAA permitted the return of the 737 MAX planes to service after implementing several design changes. Despite this, Boeing continues to face challenges in meeting production goals for its 737 MAX aircrafts.

Boeing has acknowledged the incident with the Alaska Airlines flight and is actively working to gather more information. Spirit, on the other hand, has directed any queries to Boeing.

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