An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX planes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington, United States, March 21, 2019.
Lindsey Wasson | Reuters
Boeing’s plane orders and deliveries plummeted in January as the company grappled with the aftermath of a mid-flight explosion of a fuselage panel on one of its 737 Max 9s, an accident that eclipsed the manufacturer’s good results last year.
The company delivered 27 planes last month, its lowest total since September, compared to 67 deliveries in December. It sold three Boeing 737 Max aircraft, but also recorded three cancellations.
Deliveries were roughly in line with what some analysts expected. These three gross orders come after a strong December, in which Boeing sold 371 planes.
Airbus, Boeing’s rival, delivered 30 planes in January.
Boeing executives have worked to convince airline customers, investors and regulators that they will find a more reliable footing after the Jan. 5 crash, when a door plug exploded while a flight Alaska Airlines was at 16,000 feet shortly after departing Portland, Oregon. No one was seriously injured on Flight 1282, but the violent mob tore off the headrests and exposed travelers to a gaping hole in the 26th row.
The bolts that hold the unused exit door panel in place appeared to be missing from the fuselage piece, which had been removed and reinstalled at the Boeing 737 Max factory in Renton, Washington, the National said Transportation Safety Board in a preliminary report last week.
Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun has pledged to overhaul manufacturing processes at the company’s facilities. The Federal Aviation Administration said it would halt Boeing’s planned production increases until it was “satisfied that the quality control issues discovered during this process have been resolved.”
“I’m kind of glad they announced a pause because it’s a good excuse to take our time and do it right,” Calhoun said during a Jan. 31 earnings conference call.
The FAA audits Boeing’s production, and the agency’s administrator, Mike Whitaker, told CNBC last month that it would keep “boots on the ground” at Boeing and conduct direct labor inspections there.
Whitaker is visiting the Renton plant this week.
Boeing’s January deliveries included three Max planes to Chinese customers, the first in about four years.
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