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Jan 8, 2024, 7:13am EST
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Semafor Signals

US grounds Boeing 737 Max 9 planes over safety fears

With insights from CNBC, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Bloomberg

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FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Jet Airways and 9 Air Boeing 737 MAX airplanes, as well as a 737 MAX 7, grounded at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo
REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo
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The News

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has grounded 171 Boeing aircraft following a safety incident on an Alaska Airlines flight, the latest in a string of issues for the company.

On Friday, a panel blew off of a new Boeing 737 Max 9 plane mid-flight, forcing an emergency landing. None of the plane’s 177 passengers and crew were injured in the incident.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Boeing’s focus on finances ushered in crises

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Sources:  
The Atlantic, The New York Times

The airplane manufacturer’s top brass were at one time inextricably linked to its engineers: The firm, which at one point prioritized its executives’ ability to speak the language of its workers, pivoted to focusing on finances, The Atlantic argued in a 2019 report. Executives were lauded for their cost-cutting abilities, leading engineers at the company to fear that major safety incidents would be the only thing that could shift the corporate culture, journalist Peter Robison noted in his book about the firm.

Boeing issues undermine CEO’s comeback plan

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Source:  
Bloomberg

Boeing head David Calhoun has attempted to get the company back on track — but the Alaska Airlines incident is likely to scupper his plans, Bloomberg noted. Calhoun had said that 2024 was an “important transitional year,” but the FAA’s decision this weekend has added yet another crisis to the company’s challenges. “If Boeing doesn’t get its factories stabilized, it’s going to be a problem selling airplanes — if it isn’t already,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst George Ferguson said.

Did Boeing learn from the 737 Max 8 crisis?

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Source:  
CNBC

Boeing’s 737 Max 8 aircraft were grounded for 20 months following the Lion Air and Ethiopia Airlines crashes. The crashes killed 346 people, prompting an overhaul in the plane’s faulty design and costing Boeing billions of dollars. Analysts have questioned whether the company can get back on track after the crisis, or convince investors that it has learned from the incidents. “The jury is very much out” on whether the company had made enough changes to recover from its deadly past mistakes, industry analyst Richard Aboulafia told CNBC in 2022.

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