Boeing output plummets as safety fears linger – Reuters

The US aerospace giant is grappling with the fallout from a major safety crisis

Production of Boeing’s 737 MAX jetliner has declined sharply in recent weeks due to a series of regulatory checks and safety audits, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed industry sources.

In February, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) imposed a production ceiling of 38 jets per month, following a blowout on a 737 MAX in January. The monthly output rate, however, has been fluctuating well below the cap, and in late March was as low as single digits, sources told the news agency.

The company’s assembly line has reportedly been slowed down due to the checks, affecting the plane maker’s overall production and having a significant negative impact on supplies as a result.

Significant safety fears were raised after an incident on January 5, when an Alaska Airlines flight bound for California from Portland, Oregon, had to turn back after a door panel blew off at 16,000 feet (4,900 meters), injuring several of the 171 passengers aboard and sucking clothing and cell phones out of the aircraft. 

The National Transportation Safety Board reported that four crucial bolts holding the door plug in place were missing, while the FAA said after an initial probe that Boeing’s safety culture leaves much to be desired. The regulator ordered 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes to be grounded after the incident to check for more loose parts. Since the incident, shares in the aerospace giant have plummeted more than 25%. 

READ MORE: Boeing mulls sale of defense assets – Bloomberg

In March, Boeing CFO Brian West said the company was taking extensive steps to improve quality and build confidence, including reducing the amount of pending work as the FAA steps up factory checks and audits. According to the executive, the FAA was “deeply involved and undertaking a tougher audit than anything we’ve ever been through before.” 

Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun recently announced plans to step down by the end of the current year, in a move seen as major management shakeup in the company’s history.


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