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Retired Navy Admiral to Lead Independent Probe After Door Plug Blowout

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Clear Facts

  • Boeing has appointed Kirkland Donald, a retired Navy admiral, to conduct an independent investigation into its quality management systems following an incident where a panel blew off an Alaska Airlines plane midflight.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has grounded Boeing 737 Max 9 models and is auditing the production line, while Boeing has also launched an independent investigation into the aircraft.
  • Boeing’s issues were further compounded when a Japan All Nippon Airways flight had to return to its departure airport due to a crack in a cockpit window of a Boeing 737 aircraft, and shares of Boeing fell about 8% on Monday.

Boeing has enlisted the expertise of Kirkland Donald, a retired Navy admiral, to conduct an independent evaluation of its quality management systems. This move comes in the wake of multiple investigations following an incident where a panel detached from an Alaska Airlines plane during flight.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made the decision to ground Boeing 737 Max 9 models after an incident involving an Alaska Airlines flight on January 5. During the flight departing from Portland, Oregon, a door plug detached, leaving a large hole in the left side of the plane. This led to an emergency landing, with all passengers and crew members landing safely. However, several passengers sustained injuries, and some have initiated lawsuits against Boeing for damages.

The FAA is currently auditing the 737 Max 9 production line. Concurrently, Boeing has initiated an independent investigation into the aircraft. Donald, who is the chairman of the board for Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc., will present his findings to Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun and the board of directors for the company’s Aerospace Safety Committee.

In a press release on Tuesday, Calhoun stated, “Admiral Donald is a recognized leader in ensuring the integrity of some of the most complex and consequential safety and quality systems in the world.” He further added, “I’ve asked him to provide an independent and comprehensive assessment with actionable recommendations for strengthening our oversight of quality in our own factories and throughout our extended commercial airplane production system. He and his team will have any and all support he needs from me and from across The Boeing Company.”

Boeing’s challenges were further amplified on Saturday when a Japan All Nippon Airways flight was forced to return to its departure airport after a crack was discovered in a cockpit window of the Boeing 737 aircraft. However, this plane was not one of Boeing’s 737 Max 9s.

On Monday, shares of Boeing experienced an approximately 8% drop. This was reportedly due to China Southern Airlines potentially seeking to delay deliveries of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets for further inspection, as per the Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Clear Thoughts (op-ed)

Boeing’s recent decision to hire retired Navy admiral, Kirkland Donald, to conduct an independent investigation into its quality management systems, is a clear indication that the company is taking its recent mishaps seriously. This move, coming in the aftermath of an alarming incident where a panel detached from an Alaska Airlines plane mid-flight, demonstrates a commitment to safety and quality.

The FAA’s grounding of the Boeing 737 Max 9 models, and the subsequent audit of the production line, are necessary measures in the face of such serious issues. However, it is crucial that we don’t rush to judgment. It’s important to remember that the incident with the Japan All Nippon Airways flight involved a different model.

Boeing’s stock taking an 8% hit is a reflection of the market’s immediate reaction, but it’s not necessarily indicative of the company’s long-term prospects. It’s an unfortunate situation, but with the right actions, Boeing can restore confidence in its brand.

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