Boeing CEO Admits Guilt And Vows Mid-air Blowout Can Never Happen Again

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun acknowledged the mistake made in a mid-air panel blowout from an Alaska Airlines jet and promised to work with regulators to ensure it never happens again. This was Boeing's first public acknowledgment of error since the incident on Friday left the 737 MAX 9 plane with a gaping hole. Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, the two U.S. carriers that use the temporarily grounded planes, have found loose parts on similar aircraft, raising fears such an incident could have happened again. 


Boeing told staff that findings of loose bolts in airplanes were being treated as a "quality control issue" and checks were underway at Boeing and supplier Spirit Aerosystems. Boeing has ordered its plants and suppliers to ensure such problems are addressed and to carry out broader checks of systems and processes. Boeing shares fell 1.4% Tuesday as United canceled 225 daily flights, or 8% of its total, while Alaska canceled 109, or 18%. Similar cancellations were expected on Wednesday. Calhoun also told Boeing employees the company will ensure every next airplane that moves into the sky is in fact safe. 

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He praised the Alaska Airlines crew that swiftly moved to land the 737 MAX 9 plane with only minor injuries to the 171 passengers and six crew. Boeing has suffered numerous production issues since the full-blown grounding of the 737 MAX family in March 2019, which lasted 20 months, following a pair of crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed nearly 350 people. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded 171 planes after Saturday's incident, causing numerous flight cancellations. Boeing is still working out inspection guidelines to ensure safety lapses are fixed.


Boeing did not comment on any of his remarks beyond the extract issued by the statement. Boeing met delivery targets but ended 2023 in second place behind rival Airbus for the fifth year running, with 528 jets delivered. Boeing booked 1,314 net new orders, up 70%, but faces an aggressive timetable for production.

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