Boeing Likely At Fault For Alaska Airlines 737 MAX Incident

Boeing is likely at fault for the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX incident following the improper installation of the door plug that blew out.

Dominic Gates, a leading industry reporter of The Seattle Times, has broken the news that a Boeing whistleblower has said that mechanics at the Renton final assembly line were at fault for the door blowout.

What’s The Latest?

As part of the whistleblower’s comments, the breakthrough on how this came about following Boeing’s records indicating the door plug that blew off was removed for repair and reinstalled at the Renton assembly line.

However, per Reuters and their sources, this type of work isn’t abnormal as Boeing will typically look to remove the panel and replace it. However, the reports suggest that mechanics may have improperly reinstalled the panel in this case.

While much of the blame was initially placed on Boeing, the focus has slightly shifted towards key supplier Spirit AeroSystems in recent weeks. As the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates if these developments are true, the blame would rest solely on Boeing.

Quality Control Continues To Fail

Reports of improper reinstallation of a door plug that would eventually lead to a blowout aboard a flight come directly back to quality control, which continues to fail.

Boeing hasn’t been a stranger to quality issues throughout recent history. While these occur in most businesses daily, the margin for error on an aircraft responsible for the safety of thousands per day is increased substantially.

The American plane maker has faced substantial quality slips across multiple years. However, following the 737 MAX crisis in the late 2010s, Boeing ensured it would tighten its practises to become a better company. The last few years, while having represented minor setbacks for Boeing, have seen nothing of great magnitude emerge that would make global headlines.

Now, word of an incident involving a door plug has escalated to thorough investigations and reporting of improper reinstallation of critical parts to the aircraft, which has placed Boeing multiple steps back. Additionally, it undoes any work potentially done to rebuild its reputation.

However, onlookers and analysts question if these quality slips occurred in the form of loose bolts, how much has changed internally across recent years?

An Incident That Couldn’t Happen

Following the events of January 5 Flight AS1282, Boeing executives, alongside officials at key airlines, have said that the incident should have never happened.

While this doesn’t have to relate to the time of the root cause, if a reinstallation was done improperly, then yes, these executives would have a more than valid point that it shouldn’t have happened.

Anger and frustration have been directed at key executives at Boeing, who analysts and onlookers believe need to depart to implement change. Sources from companies who wish not to be named have also identified a significant culture shift across multiple decades, creating a gap between those upstairs and those on the floor.

Boeing has been apologetic from the beginning, saying that what occurred isn’t good enough and that they are sorry for the significant disruption caused to airline customers. The manufacturer’s primary priority is to get the plane back in the sky.

Boeing Attempts To Change Its Ways

However, Boeing is also actively working to ensure employees know that quality and safety are priorities. Initiatives such as shutting the 737 production line for a day to focus on quality assurance and safety workshops are taking place. Meanwhile, Boeing is also increasing oversight of suppliers and its production standards.

Analysts warn that this isn’t the first time these words have been ushered and thus remain cautious that anything will change until departures occur at a senior level. However, Boeing believes it can turn things around for the moment, but it’ll take time.

Daniel Fowkes
25 Jan 2024
· Aircraft 

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