Boeing Enters ‘New Territory’ With Federal Probe, Possible Criminal Charges

Boeing’s fate changed drastically when an Alaska Airlines flight experienced a door panel ripping off following takeoff on January 5th. The timing could not have been worse as the incident occurred just two days short of the cut-off date that would have enabled the company to avoid criminal prosecution by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). Instead, the mishap led to investigations by various federal agencies including congressional hearings. The occurrence cast a spotlight once again onto Boeing and its 737 MAX 8 crashes which took place in 2018 and 2019 causing fatalities and leading to criminal charges for the company. The repercussions were disastrous for Boeing as it reported a staggering $355 million loss for the first quarter of this year and a 50 percent decline in deliveries. Multiple airlines have also canceled orders and the company’s stock values have plummeted since the incident. Following the door panel incident, Alaska Airlines immediately took steps to divert the plane back to Seattle where it safely landed without any injuries to the passengers or crew. An investigation was launched by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which pointed to an incorrectly installed mechanism as the root cause of the incident. Although the cause of the door panel ripping off was determined, it triggered a domino effect for Boeing as the public scrutiny surrounding the mishap brought back the 737 MAX 8 crashes to the forefront of discussions. The crashes, that took 346 lives in total, were the result of software malfunctions and led to a grounding of all Boeing 737 MAX planes for almost two years. The grounding cost Boeing billions of dollars in revenue and compensation payouts. The company made significant changes to its software and re-trained thousands of pilots, hoping to regain the trust of the public. However, since the door panel incident, some airlines have decided not to use these planes while some passengers are hesitant to board them, creating further setbacks for Boeing. The fallout from both incidents prompted CEO, Dave Calhoun, to issue a statement calling for the company to “be more transparent, more rigorous, and more disciplined in our processes and quality checks”. The CEO acknowledged the company’s shortfalls and pledged to make changes in both its operations and culture. Boeing’s financial prospects look bleak as it faces multiple lawsuits and undertakes settlements that could result in billions of dollars in damages. Though it’s been a tough year and a half for the company, industry experts have said that Boeing must get it right this time or it risks going under
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