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Boeing's Struggle Intensifies: DOJ Investigates 737 Max 9 Air Scare


Lauren Miller

March 11, 2024 - 15:54 pm


Boeing Plunges Further Amid Justice Department's Probe into 737 Max 9 Incident

Boeing Co. continues to face a tumultuous period as its shares have fallen more than 25% since the onset of 2024. This latest plummet in the company's valuation comes on the heels of a criminal investigation launched by the Justice Department. The investigation relates to a harrowing midair incident involving a Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft that occurred in January of this year.

On a fateful day in New York, Boeing Co.'s shares took a steep dive, dropping up to 4.4%, marking the most significant intraday fall since January 25. This was in response to Alaska Airlines, the operator of the nearly new jet, acknowledging a report by the Wall Street Journal regarding the federal scrutiny under which the aerospace giant now finds itself.

Federal Authorities Tighten Oversight

The episode has caught the attention of high-level government officials and regulatory authorities, leading to increased oversight of Boeing's operations. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, in a televised interview with Fox News Sunday, emphasized that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would apply “an enormous amount of rigor" in addressing the situation with Boeing, as well as any regulatory concerns that arise from the incident.

The January Incident Unfolded

The incident that triggered the investigation involved an Alaska Air flight, where, shockingly, four bolts that were critical in securing a panel covering an unused door, were found missing. The lapse resulted in the panel detaching midair, according to the National Transportation Safety Board's initial report. This lapse in aircraft integrity led to an emergency evacuation of all 171 passengers, along with six crew members, fortunately, without any serious injuries.

Boeing Faces Tough Questions Over Maintenance Records

Complicating matters, Boeing has encountered significant challenges in providing documentation for the work done on the failed door panel. In a correspondence sent to a senator heading the committee in charge of aviation matters, Boeing acknowledged the inability to trace any records of the maintenance work in question and implied that standard company procedures might have been neglected.

DOJ Scrutiny Under Deferred-Prosecution Agreement

A report by Bloomberg News late in February indicated that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was assessing whether this incident could be considered a violation of the government's 2021 deferred-prosecution agreement with Boeing. This agreement was put in place following two fatal incidents involving Boeing's 737 Max jetliner, which took place prior to this year.

As of the morning trading hours in New York, Boeing's shares saw a further 3.1% decrease. This loss extends the total decline in the company's stock value to 26% since the beginning of the year. It's a troubling trend for the aerospace company, as it navigates through this latest challenge.

For more detailed information about the U.S. government's investigation into the midair blowout on the Alaska Airlines flight, readers are encouraged to refer to the full report named "US Opens Criminal Investigation Into Alaska’s Midair Blowout," available via the Bloomberg platform.

Bloomberg L.P., the source of the original report, has been instrumental in bringing to light the challenges faced by Boeing as the company grapples with both legal and public relations crises.

Consistent Decline a Concern for Investors

Investors looking at Boeing's performance over the course of 2024 have witnessed a steady decline, causing a significant level of concern. The stock's 26% decline is indicative of the mounting pressures on the company. Confidence seems to be waning as both federal investigations and public perception weigh heavily on the future of Boeing.

The Importance of Aircarft Safety and Oversight

With the 737 Max 9's safety now in question, the aviation sector is reminded of the critical importance of stringent oversight and thorough maintenance protocols. The incident serves as a sobering reflection on the imperative need for the aviation industry to uphold the highest standards of safety to protect passengers, crew, and the reputation of airline operators and manufacturers alike.

The financial implications for Boeing due to the investigation and the subsequent hit to its stock value are significant, further compounded by the loss of trust from the public and renewed scrutiny by regulatory bodies. As Boeing forges ahead, the path to regaining stability and consumer confidence will necessitate not only addressing the current safety concerns but also proving their commitment to rigorous safety measures moving forward.

For further developments and updates on Boeing's situation and the broader implications for the aviation industry, stakeholders are advised to remain tuned to credible news outlets like Bloomberg L.P. and to monitor announcements from regulatory bodies such as the FAA.

To read the article on Bloomberg that shares insights into the Justice Department's investigation, refer to the following link: US Opens Criminal Investigation Into Alaska’s Midair Blowout.

In this challenging climate for aerospace companies, the unfolding story of Boeing's legal and regulatory challenges will be of keen interest to industry insiders, investors, and the general public. The safety of air travel remains paramount, and the response of companies like Boeing in dealing with such critical issues will be closely scrutinized in the weeks and months to come.

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As Boeing Co. endeavors to navigate these tumultuous waters, the importance of transparent communication and adherence to aviation industry standards cannot be overstated. The unfolding narrative of the 737 Max 9 incident and its repercussions for Boeing will continue to be a focal.point for discussions around aerospace safety and corporate responsibility.

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