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March madness caps off horror start to 2024 for Boeing

Aboard the LATAM Boeing in trans-Tasman 'drop'

Source: X

Boeing may be the backbone of the Australian airline industry, but a series of serious incidents involving its planes have airlines around the world on high alert.

Qantas has 99 Boeing planes in its fleet, while Virgin flies 92 across Australian routes.

But it was the disturbing midair drop of a Chilean airline’s Dreamliner on Monday that injured dozens of people en route from Sydney to Auckland.

It was the fifth incident involving a Boeing plane in March alone, as 2024 shapes up as a horror year for the airline giant.

March madness

The Beoing 787-9 Dreamliner suffered a “technical problem”, according to its pilot, that caused the plane to drop abruptly mid-flight on Monday.

50 passengers and crew members were injured; 12 were hospitalised.

The incident followed a Boeing 777 making an emergency landing on a scheduled flight from San Francisco to Japan after a wheel fell off, sending it into an airport parking lot.

Another flight, this time from Sydney to San Francisco, was forced to land after it began leaking fuel from its landing gear.

Earlier in the month, a Boeing 737 had its engine catch fire after taking off from Florida.

New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon got to experience the chaos first-hand when his chartered flight on a Boeing plane to Melbourne for the recent ASEAN summit was cancelled and he had to hastily arrange a replacement commercial flight.

Boeing’s share price has dropped from more than $US251 on January 2 to $US184 on March 12.

Qantas and Virgin Australia weren’t involved in any of the incidents. Nonetheless,The New Daily contacted both major Australian airlines about safety procedures and checks on Boeing planes in their fleet. Neither responded to questions.

Dead whistleblower

John Barnett, a quality manager at Boeing for more than 30 years, was providing evidence in a whistleblowing against his former employer when he was found dead earlier in the week.

He alleged that the aircraft manufacturer had intentionally left faulty parts in their 787 planes, potentially leaving passengers without oxygen if the cabin became decompressed, and that he suffered serious retaliation from the company when he raised the issues with his superiors.

A six-week audit of the company, released in early March, found that the company had “multiple instances where the company allegedly failed to comply with manufacturing quality control requirements”.

Barnett had suffered from PTSD after his treatment from the company, and it was reported he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

An emergency door blowing off mid-flight kicked off a horror 2024 for Boeing. Photo: X (Kyle Rinker)

Grim discovery

In January, all Boeing 737 Max 9s were grounded for 19 days after an Alaskan Airline plane had its door blow off mid-flight.

A report into the incident revealed that the Boeing plane had missing bolts and loose fittings.

“Whatever final conclusions are reached, Boeing is accountable for what happened,” Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said.

“An event like this must not happen on an airplane that leaves our factory.”

The aircraft in the incident had rolled off the assembly line just two months prior and had been used in 145 flights.

The company was heavily scrutinised after two crashes involving the aircraft in 2018 and 2019 killed 346 people.

It has been reported that a criminal investigation in the United States has been opened into the blowout incident, making it likely the year is only going to get worse for the embattled company.

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