Big Boeing 737-9 Incident & Grounding Updates

There's several updates surrounding the Boeing 737-9 incident and grounding as the CEO conducts interviews and discusses quality issues.

Boeing executives continue to appear in interviews with the media as the company remains in the spotlight following incidents involving the 737-9.

Addressing Employees

Boeing’s President and CEO David Calhoun addressed employees during a meeting that ushered a key focus on the importance of safety and how every detail in production matters.

The CEO fought back tears and showcased a significant amount of emotion during the conference, where he highlighted that those in the room and joining the webcast had kids and family that could’ve been aboard the Alaska Airlines flight.

Complements were offered to the Alaska Airlines team and crew who safely got the airplane on the ground during a turbulent moment. He noted that they train their entire lives for this potential moment and execute it flawlessly, hoping no one ever has to go through something like this.

The grounding of the 737-9 by Alaska Airlines has also been highlighted by Boeing’s CEO, who said their actions prevented potentially another accident or another moment.

Boeing says it is approaching the incident as number one, a mistake and acknowledging it on their part. They want to offer 100% transparency every step of the way by working with the NTSB, the FAA and all customers.

The American plane maker believes that customers will once more have confidence in the Boeing product. However, this will take time and will be achieved through their actions, willingness to work directly, transparency and adherence to safety and quality control.

A Quality Escape

Boeing’s CEO David Calhoun also spoke with CNBC, where he ushered the words quality escape on numerous occasions. However, fell short on explaining what this referred too when pressed.

Essentially, a quality escape relates directly back to something that wasn’t necessarily installed, built or even repaired satisfactorily. This term is said to have been used not just at Boeing but also by other companies worldwide for decades.

These comments from the CEO are being taken as it was indeed a quality error that led to the incident aboard the Alaska Airlines 737-9, alongside further loose bolts being found on parked Boeing jets.

From an onlooker’s perspective, a quality escape can be viewed as a technical term to get around some of the harrowing claims that the manufacturer focused strictly on pinching pennies rather than being safe.

When questioned about why the 737 MAX continues to see issues and can’t seem to get away safely, the CEO noted that the incident concerns a discrete set of aeroplanes and a plug that also impacts only specific aircraft.

Public Backlash

Boeing’s comments surrounding quality escape and the overall quality assurance troubles have left them more in the spotlight than ever before. This was a manufacturer onlookers knew had a problem and believed was being rectified. However, these developments take Boeing back to square one.

The chase for profits within the company is what many have highlighted as a deterrence. Still, realistically, it has been a company on a steady ship downward since a merger with McDonell Douglas, where Boeing would lose the charm it once had throughout the latter stages of the 1900s.

Additionally, there’s been a lot of focus on the wordplay used by the CEO, such as “quality escape.” This wordplay, while a term, can equally be viewed as a means to use internal dialogue to try and not tell it how it is.

This stance of not telling it how it is to the public can be backed up by several onlookers’ comments about how Calhourn acts during the interview when questioned.

Nothing To Do With The MAX?

A significant public backlash is directed towards Boeing and its 737 MAX program, which is in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

However, quality assurance difficulties can ultimately impact any aircraft, even brand-new ones. Quality assurance thus doesn’t directly relate to an error with the plane in the question itself, but instead, the practises conducted on that aircraft.

The element of loose bolts found on 737-9s can ultimately be found on any other aircraft globally. As a result, those who have analysed Boeing for years, especially following the 737 MAX crisis in the late 2010s, would argue that how the plane maker builds its aeroplanes is highly questionable if these are the results.

Jason Rabinowitz, an industry analyst and podcast guest, highlighted concerns surrounding Boeing’s production, asking, if Boeing cannot produce an ‘industry dinosaur,’ as it’s referred to in the 737, how can they adequately produce a clean sheet design that would theoretically require far more?

To Conclude

Boeing has been in the spotlight over the past week for several reasons. However, much of the focus resides on the 737 MAX, which should highlight further deep-rooted quality assurance problems within the plane maker.

The manufacturer says that it’ll learn once more from this experience and continue with its mission of producing safe planes. However, with each incident, those who still have faith in the company begin to drop off like flies.

Boeing has a long way to go to restore faith in the public and customers, as highlighted by its CEO, but it believes its response to this incident will be crucial to moving forward.

Daniel Fowkes
11 Jan 2024
· Aircraft 

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