Malfunction of an Alaska Airlines door seal made by a Boeing supplier in Malaysia

Malfunction of an Alaska Airlines door seal made by a Boeing supplier in Malaysia

Investigators have identified a Malaysian plant operated by Boeing supplier Boeing AeroSystems as the source of the defective door plug on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282. Shelby Tauber – Bloomberg/Getty Images

Investigators scrambled to find out why part of the fuselage was torn off Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 on January 5. The National Transportation Security Board revealed one of their findings on Wednesday — though that doesn’t make getting more answers any easier.

A factory in Malaysia, operated by Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems, manufactured a defective door plug on the 737 Max 9 plane involved in the crash, NTSB Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy announced Wednesday. (Door plugs replace unnecessary emergency exit doors.) That means the failure could happen anywhere between Malaysia, Spirit’s facility in Wichita, or a Boeing plant near Seattle.

“We have no indication right now as to where this will happen in this process,” Homendy told reporters after a Senate hearing. Wall Street Journal. “This could be anywhere along the line,” she said, adding that the NTSB was not focused solely on manufacturing.

Boeing has outsourced much of its manufacturing to outside suppliers like Spirit, who have in turn built sprawling global supply chains, including countries like Malaysia.

The Southeast Asian country is the region’s second-largest aviation hub, and the industry there generated $3.4 billion in revenue in 2019, according to documents from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority. Malaysia-based suppliers work with both major aircraft manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus.

Spirit has a factory in Subang, near Kuala Lumpur, the country’s capital. The Boeing supplier opened the 242,000-square-foot facility in 2009.

“Although Spirit is an airline, it is also a people company, and it is the people in Malaysia that convinced me that this is a great place for Spirit to grow globally,” Spirit’s then CEO, Jeff Turner, said at the time. .

In addition to Malaysia and the United States, Spirit also has facilities in the United Kingdom, France and Morocco.

The spirit did not respond Luck Request to comment outside US business hours. A company spokesperson confirmed to Associated Press The plug is made in Malaysia.

A Boeing spokesman said the company would check with Spirit for more information about the origin of the door plug.

“It will get better”

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun pledged to deepen cooperation between his company and Spirit. “We’re going to get better,” Calhoun said at a town hall at Spirit’s headquarters in Wichita. He added that Boeing and Spirit engineers, mechanics and engineers “will speak the same language on this matter in every way and form.”

Both Boeing and Spirit are still reeling from the Alaska Airlines incident.

About 170 planes, most of them belonging to Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, remain grounded, awaiting inspection instructions from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration. Federal Aviation Administration officials said Wednesday they had inspected 40 planes similar to those involved in the Alaska Airlines flight.

Boeing shares have fallen 18% since January 5, the date of the Alaska Airlines incident. Spirit shares fell 15% over the same period.

Boeing’s return to Asia

This incident complicates Boeing’s return to Asia, specifically to China. At one time, China was one of Boeing’s most promising markets, thanks to the country’s booming aviation sector. But Chinese officials froze Boeing aircraft orders in 2019, following two fatal crashes of the 737 MAX 8.

Boeing is tiptoeing back into the market: the manufacturer delivered its first plane in more than four years to a Chinese airline last December.

But now, Chinese regulators and airlines are conducting additional checks on Boeing planes in the wake of the Alaska Airlines incident Wall Street Journal I reported earlier this week. (The aircraft being examined are not 737 MAX 9)

Other airlines are working to fill the gap left by Boeing’s absence. Chinese airlines switched to the Airbus A320 series during Boeing’s freeze: There were more than a thousand A320s operating in China by the end of 2022, compared to just over 940 Boeing 737s, according to Bloomberg. China also has a domestic competitor to the 737: the C919, made by state-owned COMAC.

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