As Rosanne Roseannadanna used to say on Saturday Night Live, “It’s always something. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”
You can excuse the folks at Boeing if they’re feeling a little that way these days as the bad news continues to pile up in large and small increments.
The biggest development is an explosive interview with NBC News in which the head of Alaska Airlines said inspectors found “many” loose bolts on door plugs on its Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes.
Nobody outside of the aviation industry knew what a 737 door plug was three weeks ago, but they became the centre of the travel world’s attention on 05JAN when one of the panels flew off an Alaska Airlines flight that was cruising over Portland, Oregon at 16,000 feet, as Open Jaw reported.
In an exclusive interview with NBC News senior correspondent Tom Costello, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci discussed the findings of his company's inspections so far since the terrifying incident on a flight carrying 177 passengers
“I’m more than frustrated and disappointed,” he said. “I am angry. This happened to Alaska Airlines. It happened to our guests and happened to our people. And — my demand on Boeing is what are they going to do to improve their quality programs in-house.”
In a report that will send shivers down the spines of Boeing executives and shareholders, the CEO of United Airlines said United will consider alternatives to buying a future, larger version of the Boeing 737 Max.
WingsMagazine.com reports United CEO Scott Kirby said that Boeing needs “real action” to restore its previous reputation for quality.
It also quotes Kirby as saying U.S. regulators may soon clear the MAX 9 for flying, “but I’m disappointed that the manufacturing challenges do keep happening at Boeing.”
“I think this is the straw — the Max 9 grounding — is probably the straw that broke the camel's back for us,” he told CNBC. “We're going to at least build a plan that doesn't have the Max 10 in it.”
That’s very bad news for Boeing, but likely a quote that will warm the hearts at Airbus headquarters.
The Guardian also reports that OTA Kayak has developed a filter letting its customers screen out Boeing MAX planes when searching for flights.
Reuters reports that Boeing will hold a “a quality stand down” on 25JAN at the Seattle-area location where it makes 737 aircraft, pausing production and delivery operations for a day.
During the stand down, employees will attend quality workshops and "pause, evaluate what we're doing, how we're doing it and make recommendations for improvement," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Stan Deal.
Meanwhile, Boeing planes continue to suffer problems that are being highlighted regularly by news media around the world. Last week, a Boeing plane caught fire over Miami before landing safely.
Citing U.S. Federal Aviation Administration officials, The Guardian.com reports that a nose wheel fell off a Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 passenger jet and rolled away as the plane lined up for takeoff over the weekend at ATL in Georgia.
None of the 184 passengers or six crew members were hurt.