Brits face summer holiday hell as hundreds of flights could be cancelled after Boeing safety crisis leads to aircraft shortage

Full timeline of Boeing problems in 2024

January 5

On January 5, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 – a Boeing 737 Max 9 – lost a door plug at 16,000 feet on a flight from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California.

That part is designed to replace an unneeded emergency exit door, and it blew out within just 20 minutes of takeoff. 

An emergency landing was required and the plane landed safely, but a teddy bear, two mobile phones, a child’s t-shirt were all said to have have flown out during the incident.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded 171 of the 737 Max 9s in the aftermath and six of the flight’s passengers went on to sue the airline.

Alaska Airlines and United Airlines also went on to find loose parts on their grounded jets’ door plugs.

On January 5, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 – a Boeing 737 Max 9 – lost a door plug at 16,000 feet on a flight from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California

The missing door panel was found in a high school physics teacher’s back yard

January 16

An anonymous whistleblower broke rank to say that the door plug blowout ‘was Boeing’s fault’, rather than its supplier Spirit AeroSystems.

First reported by The Seattle Times, they claimed the fuselage panel was removed for repair then reinstalled improperly at its Washington factory

‘The reason the door blew off is stated in black and white in Boeings own records,’ they wrote on aviation site Leeham News.

‘It is also very, very stupid and speaks volumes about the quality culture at certain portions of the business.’

February 6

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report said that the January 5 incident was down to four crucial bolds being missing from the panel which blew out.

February 21

Boeing’s 737 Max program chief, Ed Clark, was reportedly fired in a structural shakeup at the company.

Clark was also general manager at the company’s Renton, Washington, facility and had been at Boeing for 18 years. 

He was replaced by Katie Ringgold, while a ‘senior vice president of quality’ role was created too.

March 3

A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 veered off the runway after landing in Houston due to some sort of gear collapse.

Shocking footage showed the plane lying flat on its wings on grass by the side of the runway, while passengers were hurried off from an emergency gate ladder. 

A Boeing 737 Max operated by United Airlines veered off the tarmac into the grass when exiting the runway at George Bush Airport in Houston early Friday

March 4

An audit by the FAA of both Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems ‘found multiple instances where the companies allegedly failed to comply with manufacturing quality control requirements’.

March 6

The head of the NTSB accused Boeing of ‘not cooperating’ with its investigation into the January incident. 

Jennifer Homendy said investigators sought the names of the 25 people who work on door plugs at the Renton facility, but had not received them from Boeing.

She told a Senate Committee hearing ‘it is absurd that two months later we don’t have it’.

However, Boeing spokesperson Connor Greenwood pushed back and insisted that names of employees were provided ‘early in the investigation’.

The same day, a 737’s engine caught fire in mid-air above Texas, causing an emergency landing  minutes into its journey to Fort Myers, Florida. 

March 7

A wheel fell off a Boeing 777-200 shortly after takeoff from San Francisco, crushing cars below. 

The plane with 235 passengers and 14 crew diverted to Los Angeles Airport after it was alerted to the landing gear failure and landed safely with no further incident and no injuries reported on the ground. 

March 9

Boeing whistleblower John Barnett, 62 – a former quality control manager and employee of 32 years – was found dead in his truck outside a South Carolina hotel days after testifying against the company in a lawsuit.

The coroner put it down to a ‘self-inflicted’ gunshot wound in the head, though the police confirmed that they would investigate further.

Barnett had made a string of complaints to his higher-ups in his time as a quality control manager before leaving the company on health grounds in 2017.

In January 2024, he appeared on TMZ to say that the 737 Max 9 aircraft were being launched back into the air too soon in the wake of the accident, suggesting corners had been cut.

Boeing whistleblower John Barnett was found dead in his truck outside a South Carolina hotel days after testifying against his former employer

March 11

A Boeing 777 was was forced to land due to hydraulic fluid spewing from its landing gear area. 

The forced landing happened as the San Francisco-bound 777-300 embarked from Sydney, with fluid filmed leaking from its undercarriage. 

March 15

A United Airlines 737 was grounded after it was found to be missing a panel after it touched down successfully in Medford Airport, Oregon, despite the missing part.

March 20

A Boeing 737 900 bound for Atlanta was forced to turn back and make an emergency landing after an engine blow out on take-off from Aruba.

The Delta flight circled the Caribbean island four times before coming back into land following the ‘mechanical issue’. 

March 29

United Airlines flight 990 – a Boeing 777-200 – from San Francisco to Paris had to touch down early in Denver after engine problems.

April 4

Alaska Airlines announced that they had received $160 million in compensation from Boeing after their 737 Max 9s were grounded following the January 5 door blowout.

The amount was equal to the revenue lost according to a filing from the airline, but Alaska added that it anticipated receiving extra compensation too.

April 10

Another whistleblower, Sam Salehpour, came forward in a Senate committee hearing to accuse Boeing of taking shortcuts when building its 777 and 787 Dreamliner jets and added that the company had retaliated against him when he raised concerns. 

He doubled down on the claims a week later, adding on NBC that 787s should be grounded fearing ‘fatal flaws’ which could case them to fall apart mid-air.

In a 1,500 word statement, Boeing said it was ‘fully confident’ in the 787 and called concerns about structural integrity ‘inaccurate.’

Pictured: Boeing engineer Sam Salehpour testifies before the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Investigations on April 17

April 11

An internal Boeing review in response to an initial Wall Street Journal investigation found that CEO Dave Calhoun and other bosses at the aviation firm spent $500,000 on company private jets for personal trips which were improperly recorded as business travel.

Boeing’s review concluded that some of the flights taken by executives in 2021 and 2022 ‘were not previously classified as perquisites by the company’.

In the company’s proxy filing on April 5, Boeing said that these flights ‘should have been classified as such in accordance with SEC rules and guidance’. 

April 16

United Airlines indicated it will reduce reliance on Boeing after announcing a $124m loss in the first quarter of 2024, which it blamed on the scandal-laden manufacturer.

April 24

Boeing’s CEO assured investors after a first-quarter loss of $355m was announced which coincided with a six per cent dip in share prices.

Calhoun added that he had a successor lined up for his departure at the end of 2024 who would come from inside the company.

April 26

Delta flight 520 was forced to make an emergency landing at JFK Airport when an emergency slide fell off the Boeing 767 an hour into its journey to Los Angeles.

FAA records indicated that the plane was 33 years old. 

April 30

Joshua Dean (pictured) died suddenly on April 30 aged 45 having raised the alarm about supposed defects in 737 Max jets

Dean was employed by Spirit AeroSystems based in Wichita, Kansas

A second whistleblower, Joshua Dean, died suddenly aged 45 having raised the alarm about supposed defects in 737 Max jets.

The former Spirit employee previously said he was fired from his quality auditing role for questioning standards at the supplier’s plant in Wichita, Kansas, in October 2022.

His family said on social media that Dean died in hospital after a sudden illness. 

Earlier in 2024, Dean spoke with NPR about being fired. ‘I think they were sending out a message to anybody else. If you are too loud, we will silence you,’ he said. 

May 6 

The US Federal Aviation Administration revealed it has opened an investigation into Boeing after the company reported that workers at a South Carolina plant falsified inspection records on certain 787 planes.

Boeing said its engineers have determined that misconduct did not create ‘an immediate safety of flight issue’.

No planes have been taken out of service, but having to perform the test out of order on planes will slow the delivery of jets still being built at the final assembly plant in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Boeing must also create a plan to address planes that are already flying, the FAA said.

Shocking footage showed the moment the plane attempted an emergency landing, smashing down into the runway and scraping its nose along the concrete

May 8

A FedEx Airlines Boeing cargo plane landed at Istanbul Airport without the front landing gear deployed and managed to stay on the runway, Turkey’s transport ministry said, adding that there were no casualties.

The Boeing 767 aircraft, flying from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, informed the traffic control tower at Istanbul Airport that its landing gear failed to open and it landed with guidance from the tower, the ministry said in its statement.

Airport rescue and fire fighting teams made necessary preparations on the runway before landing, and no one was injured, the ministry also said, without giving a reason for the failure.

Footage showed sparks flying and smoke billowing as the front end of the plane scraped along the runway before being doused with firefighting foam.

May 9 

A Corendon Airlines Boeing 737 plane’s front tire burst upon landing at an airport in southern Turkey on Thursday, the Turkish transport minister said, adding there were no casualties and all 190 passengers and crew were evacuated.

The front landing gear strut was damaged on the Corendon Airlines plane, arriving from Cologne, Germany, as it landed at Alanya-Gazipasa airport in Antalya.

The same day, a Boeing passenger plane came off the runway during takeoff from Dakar international airport, injuring 11 people and shutting the hub for hours. 

A Boeing 738 plane of Corendon Airlines that operated Cologne-Antalya flight gets stuck on runway due to a burst tire in Antalya, Turkiye on May 9, 2024

Pictures from the scene in Turkey showed the stationary aircraft on the tarmac flanked by emergency vehicles – its front wheels and landing gear crumpled underneath. Corendon Airlines denied Turkish reports that the aircraft had landed on its nose

In this grab taken from video people jump down emergency slides, running from a plane, in Dakar, Senegal, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. A Boeing 737 plane carrying 85 people caught fire and skidded off a runway at the airport in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, injuring 11 people

The Air Senegal flight was bound for the Malian capital Bamako and had 78 passengers on board, plus a crew of six including two pilots, airport management company LAS said in a statement.

Images showed the aircraft in an overgrown area with first aiders surrounding an injured person. Smoke and flames are also visible near the plane.

Also on May 9, the US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating statements made by Boeing Co. about its safety practices after a mid-air panel blowout on a 737 MAX flight in January.

The SEC will examine whether the planemaker or its executives misled investors in violation of the Wall Street regulator’s rules, the report said, citing three people familiar with the development.

May 14

Boeing has violated a settlement that allowed the company to avoid criminal prosecution after two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max aircraft more than five years ago, the Justice Department told a federal judge.

It is now up to the Justice Department (DOJ) to decide whether to file charges against Boeing. Prosecutors will tell the court no later than July 7 how they plan to proceed, the department said.


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