At United and Alaska Airlines, frustration is mounting over Boeing’s manufacturing problems
Leaders of United Airlines and Alaska Airlines took turns on Tuesday to attack Boeing over manufacturing problems that have grounded more than 140 planes, with United’s CEO saying the airline would consider alternatives to buying a future, larger version of the Boeing 737. Top.
“I’m more than frustrated and disappointed. I’m angry,” Ben Minicucci, CEO of Alaska Airlines, told NBC Nightly News in an interview that aired Tuesday evening. “My request from Boeing is: What are they going to do to improve their quality programs? Their own within the company?
United CEO Scott Kirby said Boeing needs “real action” to restore its former reputation for quality.
Boeing said workers at its 737 factory would stop working on Thursday for a special session to focus on quality.
This follows strong and unusual criticism of Boeing by airline executives January 5 incident A panel called a door seal exploded on an Alaska Boeing 737 MAX 9 at 16,000 feet (4,900 meters) over Oregon, leaving a large hole in the side of the plane.
US regulators grounded most of the Max 9 devices the next day, and that’s what investigators are doing Investigate whether the bolts The one that helps hold the panel in place is missing or broken.
United, who were unable to use 79 Max 9s, revealed this on Monday He expects to lose money In the first three months of this year due to grounding.
Kirby said on CNBC that he believes the Max 9 planes could be allowed to fly again soon, “but I’m disappointed that manufacturing challenges are still occurring at Boeing.”
At times over the past few years, manufacturing defects have held up deliveries of the MAX and the larger Boeing 787. Last year, United received 24 fewer Boeing planes than it expected.
United has a standing order for the MAX 10, a larger version of the MAX line. However, this model and a smaller model, the Max 7, are years behind schedule for FAA certification. The grounding of the Max 9 jets is likely to further complicate Boeing’s efforts to gain approval for the new models.
Kirby said the Max 10 is at least five years behind schedule and could be pushed further in the future.
“I think this is the straw — shutting down the Max 9 — is probably the straw that breaks the camel’s back for us,” he told CNBC. “We’ll at least build a plan that doesn’t have the 10 cap.”
Airlines rarely cancel orders, but sometimes they switch between different order models. Kirby was not specific about what planes United could get instead of the Max 10, but said the airline would talk to Boeing. He pointed out that there is only one other global manufacturer of such large aircraft, which is Airbus, Boeing’s European competitor.
Kirby added that cutting Max10 may mean that Chicago-based United will not grow as quickly as it had hoped.
Minicucci said Alaska Airlines, which has 59 Max 9 planes, planned to order Max 10 planes, but he noted that could change.
“Everything is open at this point… We’re going to do what’s best for Alaska in the long term, in terms of fleet mix,” he said.
Stan Deal, CEO of Boeing’s commercial aircraft division, apologized for grounding the Max 9 planes and said the company was making changes.
“We have failed our airline customers and are deeply sorry for the significant inconvenience they, their employees and their passengers have experienced,” Deal said in a prepared statement. “We are taking action on a comprehensive plan to safely return these aircraft to service and improve quality and delivery performance.”
Production workers at Boeing’s 737 plant in Renton, Washington, will spend Thursday participating in “quality-focused work sessions.” The sessions will allow workers to “stop and evaluate what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and make recommendations for improvement,” Dale said.
The company promises to hold similar courses in all its commercial aircraft factories.
The Federal Aviation Administration has stepped up its oversight of Boeing and is investigating whether the company and its suppliers — led by Spirit Aerosystems, which made the door seal — follow quality procedures in manufacturing.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the Alaska jet crash. The pilots were able to turn around and make an emergency landing in Portland, Oregon, and no serious injuries were reported.
The Max, Boeing’s best-selling line of planes, has a troubled history, dating back to crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed a total of 346 people. Those accidents – in Indonesia and Ethiopia – involved Max 8 aircraft, and were largely attributed to an automated flight control system that Boeing later repaired.
They were all MAX planes Grounded all over the world For 20 months after the accident. Congressional investigators It criticized Boeing for failing to fix design flaws and the FAA for weak oversight of the plane maker.
Shares of United Airlines Holdings Inc. rose. rose 5% on Tuesday, the first day of trading since the company said it would lose up to 85 cents per share in the first quarter due to the Max 9 shutdown, but earn $9 to $11 per share for the full year — a better outlook for 2024 than he expected. Analysts. Shares of Seattle-based Alaska Airlines Group rose 3%.
Shares of Boeing, which is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, fell less than 2%.
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