By Scott Hamilton and Judson Rollins
Jan. 29, 2024, © Leeham News: Twenty-twenty-four will be a crucial year for Boeing.
An unexpected twist is the crisis from Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, in which a door plug blew off a 737-9 MAX at 16,000 ft. Nobody died, and injuries were light. But the MAX 9 fleet was grounded in the US by the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA launched a formal investigation into the “quality escape” that is believed to have led to the accident. Last week, the FAA put a freeze on current production rates of the 737 and, for now, killed Boeing's plans to add a line at its Everett (WA) plant.
Beyond dealing with the 1282 aftermath, Boeing hopes this year to clear its inventory of 737 MAXes and the 787. Clearing the inventories brings cash and some profits. But will this move to the right while Boeing is under even more scrutiny by the FAA?
Boeing planned to be positioned for 2025 to pay down debt incurred during the MAX grounding and the COVID-19 pandemic. Progress toward free cash flow targets of $10bn per year by 2025/26 was forecast at its Nov. 2, 2022, investors day. This is almost certainly inoperative.