The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

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The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

Boeing to Address Quality Issues Following Aircraft Deficiencies

Recently, Boeing has come under scrutiny for their deficiencies in aircraft manufacturing, with major safety issues including a Boeing plane door blowing out mid-flight being brought to light. Amidst these events, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun has decided to step down by the end of the year. Boeing has since announced changes such as more inspections to ensure quality control and collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and a panel of industry experts to improve production and safety.

With recent scrutiny of Boeing for their deficiencies in aircraft manufacturing, the leading aerospace company and commercial airplane manufacturer has vowed to take immediate action in order to improve quality assurance and control.

This includes steps such as more quality inspections, independent assessment by a third party, and team sessions to discuss quality.

These changes follow a few isolated accidents, including that of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282. This domestic flight from Portland, Oregon to Ontario, California was scheduled for January 5, 2024, with 171 passengers and six crew members.

However, about six minutes after takeoff, the fuselage plug of the Boeing 737 Max 9 blew off the plane’s main body, causing depressurization, ripping seat headrests off, pulling items out of the plane, and tearing off a passenger’s shirt.

The fuselage plug, a structure that replaces an optional emergency exit and looks like the typical inside of a commercial aircraft, was later found in a Portland backyard.

The location of the fuselage that blew off the Boeing 737 Max 9 jet on Alaska Airlines flight 1282. There were three minor injuries and no casualties (Credit: the New York Times).

The Alaska Airlines flight 1282 made an emergency landing within 20 minutes of takeoff, with three minor injuries. There were no casualties.

Ensuing emergency inspections of the door plugs of other Boeing 737 Max 9 jets by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) following the mid-air blowout found loose bolts in the installation of the plugs, with suggestions that a similar issue led to the accident of flight 1282.

Boeing responded with a statement issued the same day as the accident: “We are aware of the incident involving Alaska Airlines Flight 1282. We are working to gather more information and are in contact with our airline customer. A Boeing technical team stands ready to support the investigation.”

The loss of the plane’s fuselage panel tore headrests off seats, pulled items out of the plane, and tore off a passenger’s shirt (Credit: BBC News).

However, this incident also placed the spotlight on other isolated, minor incidents from Boeing planes, including a malfunction in an Boeing 737 Max plane’s automated stabilizing system, an issue with a 737 Max fire detection system, and an engine failure on a 737 Max at 37,000 feet.

“It has been proven over and over again that [the Boeing 737 Max 9] aircraft is unsafe,” said freshman Megan Chen. “I wouldn’t fly on a Boeing.”

“There could be rushed manufacturing, which could lead to more errors during the building process. After they find the reason, they should try to ‘eliminate’ the problem from there,” sophomore Maggie Xiao said.

Previous concerns regarding Boeing’s manufacturing had been raised, notably by whistleblowers such as John Barnett, who noted rushed assembly processes, use of sub-standard parts in aircrafts, and failure of oxygen mask deployment. However, on March 9, Barnett was found dead by suicide.

Amidst these events is a shift in Boeing management as well, with current Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun set to step down next year, head of commercial planes division Stan Deal retiring, and chairman Larry Kellner stepping down without seeking re-election.

Boeing has been working to address various manufacturing issues brought to light.

“[Boeing] should make public statements on how they plan to address these issues with their manufacturing and periodically follow up with how those concerns are actually being dealt with and make inspection reports public, to gain trust from customers,” junior Ori Cohen suggested.

Stan Deal discussed the measures Boeing is taking to improve its quality in a message to its employees on March 12, 2024: “”As we conduct quality stand downs across our company, your improvement ideas have been invaluable. We have used your feedback, and those from our regulator and customers, to take immediate actions to strengthen our safety and quality. These actions are central to a comprehensive plan we will soon deliver to the FAA.”

Accordingly, Boeing has incorporated new layers of inspections and worked with employees to ensure proper requirements are met through audits and compliance checks.

A Boeing 737 Max 9 under construction in the Boeing production facility in Washington (Credit: Reuters).

They have also been working with a panel of industry experts to review the Boeing Safety Management System (SMS) to streamline and simplify SMS in accordance with the panel’s recommendations.

Overall, these changes show promise in improving the quality issues in Boeing aircraft production that have recently come to light.

“There’s changes that need to happen. There’s no doubt about it. But we’re going to do so diligently and expeditiously. But we won’t rush or go too fast,” Boeing Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Brian J. West said. “In fact, we’re deliberately going too slow to get this right.”

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About the Contributor
Gloria Hsia
Gloria Hsia, Managing Editor
Gloria Hsia is one of Guide Post’s managing editors. She is an officer of several clubs, including DECA and Art Club. In addition, she plays doubles on the girls’ badminton team. Outside of school, Gloria enjoys doing various mediums of art, reading random books, and contemplating existential questions in her free time. She also likes anything space related (and Highland Cows).

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