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Boeing's Real Bad, Very Ugly 2024: Every Incident Involving Boeing Planes This Year (So Far)

by Tim Wenger Mar 25, 2024

After a nearly two-year grounding following two deadly accidents, the Boeing 737 MAX was finally cleared to fly again in December 2020. However, it’s been anything but smooth sailing for the aircraft manufacturer since then. Investigations revealed a combination of factors behind the crashes. A congressional report blamed faulty engineering decisions by Boeing, a lack of transparency from management, and indequate oversight from the FAA. It wasn’t simply a mechanical problem. And then there’s been 2024 – not yet three months old, and already with a string of serious issues striking Boeing aircraft.

The year started with an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX losing a door plug mid-flight (more on this below). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has then demanded a plan to address these issues in February 2024. Fliers are increasingly skeptical about booking flights on a 737 Max. Given the incidents described below, it’s understandable if travelers extend that paranoia to the company more broadly.

Boeing’s rough 2024: Mishap by mishap

January 5: A door plug blows off Alaska Airlines flight 1282 from Portland to Ontario, California

2024 started with a literal bang for the company. A door plug blew off a Boeing 737 Max 9 in midair after departing from Portland International Airport, forcing an emergency landing. The cabin was depressurized immediately. No one was critically injured in the incident and the plane landed safely. But a door flying off a plane mid-flight justifiably unnerved the traveling public and opened the company up to a scourge of criticism. This was furthered on March 13 when it was announced that the plane was scheduled for an evaluation the day of the incident.

January 9: Alaska and United reported loose hardware during inspections of aircraft

Both airlines reported issues during inspections of Boeing 737 Max 9 planes including loose bolts on door plugs.

January 16: Four passengers on Alaska Airlines flight 1282 announce lawsuit against Boeing and Alaska Airlines

Four passengers aboard Alaska Airlines flight 1282 announced a lawsuit against Boeing and the airline following the door plug incident, citing that they felt their death was imminent.

February 6: A United 737 Max 8 experienced ‘stuck’ rudder pedals

United flight 1536 from the Bahamas to New Jersey reported stuck rudder pedals during the landing procedure. No one was injured, but the National Transportation Safety Board launched a probe into the incident.

March 7: Tire falls of a United Airlines flight shortly after takeoff from San Francisco

A Boeing 777-200 en route from San Francisco to Japan was rerouted to Los Angeles after a tire from the plane’s landing gear struts fell off immediately after takeoff. The plane landed safely in LA and again, no one was injured – but the incident only increased public paranoia. The car of one unlucky driver was significantly damaged when the tire crashed upon it, severely denting the left side of the vehicle. Fortunately, no one was in the car at the time.

March 11: 50 passengers injured after Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner dropped suddenly in mid-air

A LATAM Airlines flight from Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand, experienced a technical error that caused the plane to experience “strong movement” while en route to Auckland. 50 passengers were injured, though the flight landed safely in Auckland.

March 11: Boeing fails 33 of 89 audits during FAA inspection

The New York Times got ahold of a presentation that reveals dozens of issues throughout the manufacturing process, both at Boeing and at Spirit AeroSystems, a key supplier. The airline failed 33 of its 89 audits, with issues including inspectors finding Spirit staff using Dawn soap being as a lubricant on a door seal and a hotel room key card to check another door seal.

March 13: A United Airlines flight has a fuel leak en route from Sydney to San Francisco and is forced to turn back

A Boeing 777-300 operated by United Airlines was forced to return to Sydney on March 13 after reporting a fuel leak shortly after takeoff. The incident marked the fifth issue in a single week for United Airlines, but scrutiny quickly fell to Boeing as well, given its rough track record of late.

March 15: Boeing plane arrives in Oregon with missing external panel

A Boeing 737-800 en route from San Francisco to Medford, Oregon, arrived Friday without an external panel that had apparently been lost in flight. The debacle shut down Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport temprarily while staff searched for the panel, but it was not recovered onsite. United noted that the missing panel was on the underside of the plane where the wing meets the body.

March 25: Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun steps down

The malaise over the 737 Max — and a Q1 of 2024 rife with struggles — let Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun to announce on March 25 that he will step down as CEO by the end of the year. Also taking the exit door are Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal and Larry Kellner, the chairman of Boeing’s Board of Directors. COO Stephanie Pope will step into Deal’s position. A new CEO for the company at large has not yet been announced.

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