Boeing Woes Continue in Wake of Alaska Airlines Incident

Plane in Flight

The news isn’t getting much better for Boeing.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says it will step up its oversight of Boeing after a panel broke off a new Boeing 737 MAX 9 jet in mid-flight, according to the CBC.

FAA chief Mike Whitaker said the agency believes there are "other manufacturing problems" at the storied aviation company based in Washington state.

The FAA said in a statement it will conduct a new audit of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 production line and its suppliers. An Alaska Airlines jet had to make a dramatic emergency landing in Portland, Oregon, on 05JAN after a door panel broke off at 16,000 feet.

Whitaker told CNBC the new MAX 9 airplane that had the mid-air emergency had "significant problems" and noted Boeing's past history of production issues.

Last week, Open Jaw reported that Boeing's CEO, Dave Calhoun, has taken responsibility for the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX incident, acknowledging mistakes and vowing transparency in the investigation.

Skift.com reports Alaska Airlines began preliminary inspections on some of its Boeing 737-9 Max aircraft this weekend, adding that up to 20 planes could undergo inspection.

The carrier also said it would initiate and enhance its own layers of quality control to the production of the airplane and has initiated a review of Boeing’s production quality and control systems, including Boeing’s production vendor oversight.

Meanwhile, SimpleFlying.com says passengers onboard Alaska Flight 1282 have filed a lawsuit against Boeing over the door panel incident. The filing also revealed the extent of the injuries suffered by the travellers, citing bruising, bleeding ears, and faulty oxygen masks.

The suit, filed on behalf of six in the King County Superior Court in Seattle, argues Boeing's negligence led to the incident. It seeks "fair compensation" for the physical, emotional, and economic damage suffered by passengers. It comes just days after Alaska Airlines offered passengers $1,500 USD each in compensation.

Alaska Airlines continues to cancel a large number of its flights. FlightAware.com Alaska has cancelled 153 flights for today (15JAN), or 22% of all routes. The airline cancelled 290 flights on the weekend.

Not only is Boeing facing scrutiny today, but there could be long-term implications in terms of airline purchases.

The Wall Street Journal says China Southern Airlines has been readying to receive new Boeing planes as early as this month. The airline is now planning to conduct additional safety inspections on those aircraft following the Alaska Airlines incident, although the jets to be delivered aren’t the same variant as Alaska’s MAX 9.

The BBC reports that some 1,370 Boeing 737 MAX planes (not all MAX 9’s) have been delivered to airlines around the world so far and that another 4,300 are on order.

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