Boeing’s safety improvement since the 2018-19 MAX crisis needs more work

Editor’s Note: This story was written before the release yesterday of an independent Expert Panel appointed by Congressional mandate to review Boeing’s safety culture. The report may be downloaded here: Boeing Safety Study by FAA Panel 2-26-24

By Scott Hamilton

The interior of the Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9 MAX at Row 26, where the emergency exit door plug separated from the airplane at 16,000 ft.

Feb. 27, 2024, © Leeham News: The safety culture at Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) came under fire again following the Jan. 5 Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 accident in which an emergency exit door plug separated from the plane on climb out from the Portland (OR) airport.

The plane, a 10-week-old 737-9 MAX, fully depressurized at about 16,000 ft. Nobody died and injuries were slight. Damage throughout the cabin and into the cockpit occurred when the door plug, at row 26, blew out. Pilots landed the plane safely at Portland 14 minutes after the decompression.

Within days, quality “escapes” were determined to have occurred at Spirit AeroSystems, which built the fuselage and door plug, and at Boeing during final assembly. Since Boeing had the fuselage last and its employees completed the final assembly, Boeing’s ultimately responsible for the quality escapes.

Boeing Co. CEO David Calhoun was quick to accept responsibility for the company. Such life-threatening escapes should never happen, he said. Calhoun appointed an independent safety committee headed by a retired Admiral, Kirkland Donald, with a nuclear submarine safety background.

The appointment of a special safety committee is reminiscent of a board-level safety committee appointed in September 2019 by then-chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg in the aftermath of the MAX crisis following the October 2018 and March 2019 fatal accidents of two 737-8 MAXes. These accidents killed 348 people and led to a 21-month grounding of the global MAX fleet from March 13, 2019.

Jon Holden, the president of Boeing’s largest union, the IAM 751, said neither he nor others from the union had any contact from the 2019 committee. Boeing’s engineering and technicians union, SPEEA, declined comment. But a source familiar with the situation said the union didn’t see any changes implemented from the 2019 committee at its level.

Strides to improve, work to do

David Calhoun, CEO of The Boeing Co.

In the intervening four years and three months, Boeing took major strides to improve BCA’s safety culture. This culture came under withering fire in the MAX accident investigations. However, the safety culture had long been criticized by BCA’s two principal unions, SPEEA (engineers and technicians) and the IAM 751 (the touch labor union).

Following Alaska 1282, Calhoun admitted Boeing still has work to do for its quality control and safety.

“Whatever final conclusions are reached, Boeing is accountable for what happened,” Calhoun said. “An event like this must not happen on an airplane that leaves our factory. We simply must do better for our customers and their passengers. We are implementing a comprehensive plan to strengthen quality and the confidence of our stakeholders. It will take significant, demonstrated action and transparency at every turn – and that is where we are squarely focused.”

What progress has been made since the 2018-2019 MAX crisis?

“We’ve provided annual public updates on our actions related to safety on with Chief Aerospace Safety Office (CASO) report by Mike Delaney and his leadership team. I’m expecting an updated report in May 2024 as well,” a spokesperson said.

Reconstituting the Board of Directors

The spokesperson, in an email to LNA, wrote that since 2019 the Board of Directors has been reconstituted. LNA noted in January 2020—the month that Calhoun took over from the fired Dennis Muilenburg—that the Board bore culpability for the MAX crisis and most directors had been on the Board for years. At the start of the first MAX crisis, LNA reported that there was no Board representative from commercial aviation.

Member Larry Kellner had an airline and private equity and Calhoun’s career at GE Aviation was at the time a distant memory. All others on the Board had finance, military, and political backgrounds.

Since then, Calhoun has led the appointment of new blood, reduced the “good old boys” network tenure and some members now have commercial aviation experience. Oddly, there is still no representative from the greater Seattle area, where more than 50% of The Boeing Co’s revenues originate.

The BCA spokesperson wrote:

 The Board has undergone significant changes, adding deep safety, engineering, and manufacturing experience.

  • Since April 2019, eight independent directors have left the Board, and eight directors are new to the board. These eight new directors collectively bring significant experience in aerospace, safety, engineering, manufacturing, supply chain management, and more.
  • Among the current board directors:
    • 10 have engineering and technology leadership.
    • 9 have in-depth safety experience.
    • 7 have complex manufacturing expertise.
  • The Board amended the company’s Corporate Governance Principles to include safety-related experience as one of the criteria it will consider in choosing future directors.
  • The Board launched and operationalized our Aerospace Safety Committee providing oversight of engineering, design, development, manufacture, production, operations, maintenance, and delivery of aerospace products and services.
  • The Board added operational metrics to incentive structures for executives and employees, including product safety, employee safety and quality metrics.
Operational changes

Boeing undertook several initiatives to enhance operational safety and related procedures. The spokesperson wrote:

  • We established the Chief Aerospace Safety Officer position and established operations councils overseeing Boeing manufacturing, quality, supply chain, and program management.
  • We brought together more than 50,000 engineering teammates into a single, integrated global organization reporting to the Chief Engineer. The realignment provides a greater emphasis on safety as it increases transparency, collaboration, and accountability across all engineering designs and decisions.
  • We established a dedicated ombudsperson for FAA Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) representatives, providing these employees with an additional channel to raise work-related concerns.
  • We launched the Speak Up program and the Seek, Speak, and Listen habits encouraging and rewarding all employees for speaking up and raising issues that need to be addressed.
  • Boeing implemented an enterprise-wide Safety Management System (SMS) and Quality Management System (QMS) that is grounded in a positive safety culture that encourages employees to speak up and report hazards and concerns. We deployed required Safety Management System training to all employees.

Safety Committees named


 Boeing invested in its workforce, hiring engineering and manufacturing personnel. The employment levels now exceed pre-pandemic levels. The spokesperson wrote:

  • Engineering has grown by approximately 10%, exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
  • Manufacturing has grown by approximately 11%, exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
  • We have also invested in quality across the enterprise, increasing the number of quality employees by more than 25%, exceeding pre-pandemic levels. And since 2019, we have increased the number of Commercial Airplanes quality inspectors by 20%.
  • Over the last several years, we’ve taken close care not to push the system too fast, and we have never hesitated to slow down, to halt production, or to stop deliveries to take the time we need to get things right. We stopped delivering 787s for over a year to ensure that each conforms to our exacting specifications prior to delivery. And on the 737 line, we have regularly slowed rate breaks to support the stability of the overall production system and to correct non-conformances when identified. We took 1.5 years to transition from a rate of 31 per month to 38 per month.

Boeing safety reports

The 2024 CAO report is expected to be published in May.

Work still to be done

A retired Boeing safety employee with contacts with current employees tells LNA there are still those who fear retribution if they bring safety concerns to managers. He also questions the effectiveness of the Safety Management System (SMS) Boeing adopted.

“First, the FAA to this day still hasn’t mandated SMS for manufacturers, Part 135 or Part 145.  It’s mandated for part 121 airlines only. For the record, even the FAA doesn’t follow an SMS program for itself.

SMS requirements are outlined in federal regulation CFR Part 5.

“We worked on SMS with the understanding of ‘an acceptable level of SMS’ as the FAA and the Boeing executives agreed to call it. In late 2020 the FAA finally approved an acceptable safety standard on SMS for BCA,” the former employee tells LNA. This person notes that the FAA doesn’t care about enterprise-wide SMS, their concern is BCA only.

“The SMS was rolled out to all BCA employees afterward. We set up a ‘Speakup for Safety’ web portal for employees to report hazards anonymously or using their name for follow-up. This web portal works very well,” the former safety official said.

SMS is composed of four functional components:

  1. Safety Policy
  2. Safety Risk Management
  3. Safety Assurance
  4. Safety Promotion

Risk management is the most critical and is divided into minor and major risks and how these risks are managed and mitigated is the key to a robust SMS.

Mixed reviews

“From the feedback I’m receiving, it is mixed reviews,” the former employee tells LNA. “Many managers are clueless to this day about what it’s about, much less ask rank and file employees. I still hear how employees are afraid to report problems, for risk of losing their jobs.

“Lastly, the other key component of the FAA signing off on the program was BCA being transparent on sharing data metrics. The airlines share everything, but I know for a fact Boeing doesn’t, mainly because of proprietary rules,” the former employee tells LNA.

Executive Incentives

Boeing changed the formula for executive incentives. The 2023 Proxy statement (for 2022) outlines the long-term incentive plan for executives.

The payouts to senior management are based on a combination of metrics divided into two buckets: Financial Performance and Operational Performance. The basic relative weighting is 75% Financial and 25% Operational. The weighted payout range is up to 175% Financial while Operational is capped at 25%. Therefore, Financial Performance is given a 3:1 advantage in weighting but increases to 7:1.

Product Safety is included in the Operational Performance metrics, along with four other elements: Employee Safety, Quality, Climate and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.  All are weighted equally within the category of Operational Performance.

Product Safety and DEI share the same weighting in the long-term incentive plan design. The Product Safety measuring stick required completion of “at least 600 design practices and 25 model-based engineering solution kits….”

Financial Performance metrics comprise a combination of free cash flow (the dominant metric), revenues, and earnings.  Cash flow, revenues, and earnings, given the weighting and payout range, are therefore favored 15:1 or 35:1 over Product Safety.

“I’m not against metrics that address shareholder value,” says an expert who reviewed the Proxy. “It’s fundamental for any company to build shareholder value.  I do think ‘free cash flow’ as a dominant metric can drive unhealthy behavior. The main thing is that in this construct safety is not something (in my opinion) that is terribly relevant to the compensation plan.

“I’m sure if you ask any member of Boeing management team, they would be able to truthfully and sincerely say that safety is paramount to any cash flow metric or incentive plan consideration.  However, the long-term incentive plans also need to reflect the company’s values and the board’s priorities, and changes are in order.”

Spirit AeroSystem

Spirit AeroSystem, which makes the 737 fuselages and the plug door that was on the Alaska MAX 9, has had its own safety and quality assurance issues. Tom Gentile was replaced last year by the Board of Directors in part because of the seemingly endless series of quality escapes on the 737 and 787. (Spirit makes the nose section of the 787.)

Replacing Gentile was Board member Pat Shanahan. Shanahan spent more than 30 years in various positions at Boeing, including VP of Programs response for all the 7-Series commercial airliners. He left Boeing to become deputy secretary of the Defense Department under the Trump Administration. He retired following opposition to his elevation to Defense Secretary, becoming a Spirit Board member later.

On the 2023 year-end earnings call, a few weeks after the Alaska 1282 accident in which Spirit was implicated, Shanahan announced that there will be a change in Spirit’s long-term executive payout plan.

Michael Ciarmoli of Truist Securities noted the 2023 Proxy Statement (for 2022) reported that only 20% of cash compensation was tied to quality and none was tied to long-term incentives. “Are you planning on changing compensation to…focus more on quality?”

Shanahan said yes.

“It will be significantly different,” the new CEO replied. “The heaviest weighting will be on quality. I’m really working on designing it. I want to make sure that it drives the right behaviors, and we can measure performance. You’ve got to really look at the utility industry we’re in. There’s a significant penalty for quality escape.”

Shanahan said he wants a system in place to measure defect reduction and whether there is any type of escape. “We’re changing [incentives] fundamentally and we’re now making sure that what we put in place works well and drives the right kind of behavior.”

Another Safety Study

On Jan. 5, 2023, the FAA appointed an outside committee tasked with reviewing the Boeing safety culture. Members included MIT, airlines, unions, and other parties. The day, ironically, was one year to the day before the Alaska 1282 accident. The report was due to be delivered to the FAA last month. It’s been delayed following the 1282 accident.

144 Comments on “Boeing’s safety improvement since the 2018-19 MAX crisis needs more work

  1. what I wondered:

    Boeing “deteriorated” its processes in collusion with the FAA.

    Wouldn’t the NTSB as an _uninvolved_ investigator been a better choice? ( are they capable to do that job? )

    • The article lists a number of “improvements ” management has made to support quality and safety, but much of this is incomplete and misleading, for example:
      1. Increased engineering workforce by 10% over pre-pandemic level. You can replace bodies but not experience. The people who were encouraged to leave with early retirement took years of experience with them that cannot be replaced. You may have more bodies, but if you replace 30 yr people with recent grads you’re actually cutting payroll and productivity.
      2. All those engineer and aviation experts appointed to the bod. When I last reviewed the backgrounds of the members I recall about half were primarily finance/accounting like Calhoun. I thought no more than a couple had a real background in engineering or aerospace manufacturing. Kellner ran an airline so he knows operations, may know the difference between a rivet and a hi-lok, but no experience manufacturing aero structures.
      Also, I distinctly remember an interview with Calhoun soon after he became CEO. He was asked if Boeing should appoint an engineer to the boatd. His response was, “I don’t think we need to fill the board with those people,” So getting any technical background on the board was not his idea, he was not in favor of, and to the extent it happened it was because he was pushed to it by outside forces.

  2. Fact is, Boeing prioritized production rate over production quality. It doesn’t matter what they say now, all the rhetoric from Calhoun prior to this incident was about rapidly increasing production, not about quality of production. The consequence is there for all to see.

    Maybe there will be a radical change now, but not seeing it yet. None of what you quote above displays any curiosity about what went wrong. Or even any acknowledgement that it has gone wrong.

    • Yah, I’m sure that’s the problem, Elon. If we just remove that policy everything will magically be fixed.

      • No, the DEI policies is what will fix things.
        People who pee while siting down and are not pale have special skills with regards to safety and quality control.
        The pigmentation and chromosome qualifications that they’ll bring to the company are surely more needed than boring old things like actual skills and experience.

        • ‘People who pee while siting down ‘

          It’s Official, Sitting down to Pee Is Good for Your Health

          ‘A 2014 study by researchers from the department of urology at Leiden University Medical Center found that men who sat down to pee were able to empty their bladders faster and more effectively. 40% of German men do, while a 2020 poll concluded a whopping 70% of Japanese men have their backsides firmly planted on the porcelain throne when urinating.’


          ‘The pigmentation and chromosome qualifications’

          I can see how that would be a problem for someone like you, making sure that there is equality in the workplace. Keep ’em in the kitchen or working in the fields picking cotton, right?

          Don’t let them have those good paying jobs.


          Boeing is aspiring to have a whopping 20% representation of black people. No wonder why they can’t seem to make quality aircraft.


          ‘actual skills and experience.’

          You mean like those ~1,000 quality inspectors they laid off?

          How about those 30,000 they laid off in 2020, which Dave took home some $20 million in pay?

          Didn’t you know that people with skills and experience are a financial drag on the company and are to be laid off, replaced with cheaper employees? The old hands make too much and need to be shown the door ASAP.

          Where have you been since Harry Stonecipher made BA a financial colossus, as opposed to an engineering one?

          Please do try to get with the Boeing program and keep up.

          • [Edited as violation of Reader Comments]

            Straw man argument about hiring people not based on their abilities and qualifications but instead on their gender and color of their skin.
            Ever heard what MLK had to say about all this?

            The Boeing management [Edited] that are pushing for DEI hiring over competence hiring are the ones that laid off so many experienced workers. Why are you supporting them?

          • 14% of Americans describe themselves as “black”,why should they be over represented?Prepared to work for less?
            There is no legal way to measure that as skin shade comparison using paint charts is much frowned upon

    • Geeezzeee Sus

      ” Product Safety is included in the Operational Performance metrics, along with four other elements: Employee Safety, Quality, Climate and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. All are weighted equally within the category of Operational Performance.
      Product Safety and DEI share the same weighting in the long-term incentive plan design. The Product Safety measuring stick required completion of “at least 600 design practices and 25 model-based engineering solution kits….”

      So making DEI ‘ goals ” is EQUAL in importance to SAFETY ? for determining your pay and bonous ? How about competence and merit and experience of work force? How about training and shadowing ?

      How abouit MBWA ( management by walking around ) other than in Maine/ New Hampshire or Eads ave in the DC swamp area acrsoss from Pentagon ? …

      And relating pay to ‘quality escapes “makes it imperativce to reduce quality escapes by insuring that reports of quality issues are reduced by techniques described in animal farm. The ‘ open door ‘ policy makes sure the hinges work both ways.

    • re the Pierson article ” What made you decide to work with lawmakers and others to shine a light on these problems at Boeing?

      I realized how the leadership was treating employees — very disrespectfully, very embarrassing. Standing up in front of teams and just calling them out, and it was horrendous. ”

      Interesting- the same thing happened to me in the late 1980’s when my ‘ manager’ called me out for eating my lunch early at my desk so I could walk a half mile to a scheduled meeeting in a different building. Later he told my supervisor that IF he( supervisor) ever let me talk to a manager or executive or director level, said supervisor would be fired. . ..

      And that was over 25 years ago – so not much has changed- or is likely to change until such managers/executives are publicly walked out the door with cardboard box of their personal stuff.

  3. ‘Boeing Co. CEO David Calhoun was quick to accept responsibility for the company. Such life-threatening escapes should never happen, he said. Calhoun appointed an independent safety committee headed by a retired Admiral, Kirkland Donald, with a nuclear submarine safety background.’


    “…and with that, I’m back to Maine. Anyone who needs to get a hold of me, just text me and we’ll set up a video conference to solve any issues. We’re all in this together, so make sure there’s no more mistakes. Thanks. Bye.”

  4. Its realty good to see and get the input from the breadth of experience and job areas brought to this blog.

    The most important take in my view is there is no single aspect of the jobs we do or did that is not relevant (that assumes you thought about your job and did as high a quality work as you could).

    I worked at a pretty low level. I was high level in our work group, but in reality you could call me a Tech Master Sergeant, in theory I was the link to the work group and training, quality of work and assessment to deal with bad workers (those job duties were sabotaged so basically I worked as a tech and got pulled in as an Expert when contracts were being worked on).

    The funniest level was when I got sent overseas for a few weeks on a company “mission” at a USAF airbase and got put in the General Officers Quarters (TDY? – I think it was Captains or Colonels and above). Heady stuff!

    What I saw was as soon as a metric was handed down, the managers went to work on skewing it or flat violating it to make their department look good.

    It did not matter what it did to the company, it was what their department could make it look like and some imaginative pencil whipping was done.

    I often commented on that and the manager for the client said, no, the system is honest.

    Until the day they announced the results of a many facility bid of sorts for a green project. The one that got it stunned everyone. They were high cost (workers would spend 2-4 hours getting to work as no housing within a reasonable distance). The maint manager there was incompetent (I had met him when I did a couple of TDY trips to that facility to work on systems that they had issues with). And they took the Green Bid (all sorts of systems were turned off or bypassed because they could not make them work in auto as intended). That was the day the client manager put his head in his hands and admitted they lied and got away with it.

    What counts is the company as a whole and its well being, not just a manager by manger level or a department by department.

    It truly is cultural. My first full time job (full time seasonal so I was on the books and had medical but did not work in the frozen months) was with the State and we worked 6 days a week 10 hours a day as we had a the ground is thawed time limit to get our projects in and done (building campgrounds).

    One guy kept saying, wait until you get into private work, you guys don’t know what work is.

    Well, it was my first full time job but I had been fishing since I was 8 or so, I did summer work before I got out of high school and I had been around work crews from around 8 or so as well. None of them worked harder than we did and some less. So yea I knew what a hard working operation was like and we were it. Basically we busted out butts all day 6 days a week. We did not rush, our Foreman knew that was stupid but a good steady pace you could keep up all summer. We shifted the group(s) around to finish up areas as needed to get the job done, we all had designations for skill areas (or in my case none, grunt laborer) but we all filled in as needed and I ran equipment which was above my so called skill area.

    We had no metrics. We had assignments of projects and they knew what a realistic timeline was and we met it.

    One job we ran till it was 20 deg and snowing because it was harder than they thought and that is what it took to get it done.

    One year we were done 10 days early and idled along until designated layoff.

    We had no 7 Pillars or 6 Sigma. We just worked hard and got the job done. We shifted and adjusted as needed.

    That is what is missing at Boeing and its clear that lip service at the top does not mean anything at the bottom as its all directed at the top and is not for the company but to created a smoke screen that they are doing something when they are not.

    It was many years before I began to hear the various terms, but the upshot was we had a good culture and we did a very good job. Not as any single member, we did it as a crew (I hate the work Team).

    I slipped on some rocks on my day off the first year and was lamed up for two weeks. I could cut boards and it turned out that those boards were old tongue and grove that the bundle got shoved to the back of the shed for years.
    Opened it up and they sprnonged into 3 different direction (never saw or knew wood could do that, usually one but all 3? – wild)

    As I recall they were 12 -16 feet long and they had to be cut into 2 and 4 ft sections or you could not get the tongue and groves to fit in. So, I looked at each board, determined what the max lenght I could get a starlight section of and cut it, limped over and up the ladder, handed it to the guy needing a board and repeat.

    I was impeded but I was needed so I did it as best I could – they never had a bundle do that so it was not expected. As a crew the Foreman adjusted things.

    As a result I also had an idea of how much of the bundle we had used and progress on the roof and half way done on one side I could see we had done about half that side. So I called the Foreman down and it was, I think we are short a whole bundle, we look to run out on this side.

    As a new guy the Foreman did not believe me. He was right as he did not know me. Its turned out I had an abillity to see ahead and I was in a position to do so and with the cutting it had time to soak in.

    As he ran calculations and I was right, he confirmed it and then realized the mistake was his calcs used half a full roof and he had not doubled it to two bundles of T&G.

    What it did was allowed him to get on the horn, order a bundle of T&G from 750 miles away (logistic in Alaska those days was as bad or worse as the current supply chain issue but we were used to it). By the time we got the one side done we had the next bundle.

    That was what the crew was all about. No one jumped up and down and patted themselves on the back. It was expected that if you noticed something you thought was not right, youo said so. THe more experienced the crew member was, the higher that level of we need to take a look or just change it was. But even as a new member, if I could back up what I was saying the crew would listen. THe Formean did not always do it but the other crew members would look at it and, Frank, I think he is right.

    The crew had a very good culture. It was not perfect, we had our dead beats but they were outnumbered and the Foreman worked around them (it was hard to fire permanent seasonal workers). One was a pure temp and he was not brought back the next year. One went postal verbally and was fired. One we lived with.

    Two of the deadbets were told to do a job ahead of me so I could finish it up one day (the job broked into two discreet things and it was the logical way to do it so the Foreman asinged us it in the morning.

    Those two were having a nice time BS ing with each other and the trenchs were a joke (I needed them to assebmle fire place slabs into).

    So I went and got a pick and shovel and finished the trenches and assemled the fireplaces.

    Evnetualy Franks comes by checking out how things were going. Why are you digging trenches? I asigned X and X to do that. I just pointed to the scrapes they had put inthe ground and said, its not being done even close to right so I am fixing it.

    Frank looks at it, says good job, then he goes down the road and I hear a loud conversation and the next place is dug right.

    More than one way to skin a cat. I knew sooner or latter they would be caught and I just did my job.

    Most of the time if a guy was given a job and was struggling, he went to Frank, they would talk about it and either a new aproach or he would determine if he could drop some work in order to get that work done and what the priority was. That job might get dropped until we had a solution or people were freed up.

    It was all abut culture. Yes it can help to have an articulation of what that means but 7 Pillers is not a solution, its a concept and you don’t worhsip it, it should be meant as a framework to understand your job and the company and its the intent that is important not the Pillar.

    Zen the the Art of Motrycle maint let me see what quality meant, and how it applied to my work. I had been doing it but I understood it far better as a concept and could apply it better in understanding what I was doing and the goal and why it was importation.

    It also let me see how it applied to and affected the company.

    An area was nasty jobs. I could get a contractor to run wires, but I could not get one to do the nasty jobs for many reasons. My job was not to do the glory jobs, it was to ensure all the jobs got done and the ones neglected and or were not conductive to contracting, I did.

    I was not the important aspect and what I liked to do. It was what was best for the company.

  5. Frankly, I am tiered of this endless talk about ‘safety’ which seems to descend to: retribution fears, management can’t manage, and the FAA is clueless. Someone did not do their job on this door plug and probably should be fired or given a janitor job.

    Until I hear how all the committees are going to admit to this, I think I prefer flying on an Airbus. At least, their workers seem to get it.

    • JPH:

      And how prey tell do you get to the debacle point when a failure of this magnitude occurs?

      Prefer all you want but are you going to wait, pay more to get where you want to go?

      Boeing is a fact of existence for the next 10-30 years.

      The only way you can correct that cart blanch is to stop making aircraft today and that is not happening.

      So, quit reading or realize it got this way for a reason and the reason not someone did not do their job.

      3 major organizations failed as did at least one supplier and worst, the system failed as none of them caught it or was doing anything about it.

      This is to the point that I actually saw.

      About to pour a slab and cover over the basement for a 9 story building and it was, oh, if we don’t put the generator in there now, we are taking it down in pieces.

      So they grabbed the only generator they could find and they got way too much generator which has a major downside (I won’t bore you with details)

      We spent a couple of years dealing with that to where the too big was no longer an issue.

      There was a huge gap in the sequence as no one puts generators in the basement. But there it was.

    • “Someone did not do their job on this door plug and probably should be fired or given a janitor job.”

      Yup. That “someone” was the management which failed to maintain quality systems. That “someone” was the management which sent incomplete or poorly built assemblies on to the next station where the ‘escapes’ would be discovered.

      This is not a worker problem. This is a management problem.

  6. I continue to plow through the report and at least understand where the so called principals came from and what the acronyms stand for.

    While I agree with the reasoning of Dr. Reason, how you label it is just a shorthand for the structure you think needs to be built.

    Deming has his principles of quality control as well.

    It all boils down to a Corporate Culture and its clear the people at the top of Boeing have no clue as to how to inoculate that on down through the organization (and a lot of reason to think they don’t care and its just lip service)

    Even if Calhoun wanted to get it he can’t, its like a Pig flying, its an impossibility as Calhoun has spent his whole career pillaging (Liquidation)

    Zebra’s do not drop their stripes, they are stuck being Zebra’s with their stripes.

    If you don’t want a Zerbra striped animal, then you don’t buy one and paint it, you get what you want (need)

  7. on another note Comac C919 visits Vietnam

    China’s COMAC Unveils C919 and ARJ21 Aircraft in Vietnam, Eyeing Southeast Asian Markets

    “The exhibition in Van Don International Airport drew an impressive turnout, including officials from Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority, Quang Ninh province, and representatives from both Chinese and Vietnamese airlines and travel companies. COMAC’s Chairman, Tan Wan Geng, highlighted the significance of the event, emphasizing Vietnam’s potential as a crucial aviation market in Southeast Asia. The goal was clear: to strengthen aviation and economic ties between Vietnam and China, offering a glimpse into a future of enhanced cooperation and the initiation of commercial flights between the two nations.”

    • China’s aviation boon, driven by C919 and Airbus plant, an opportunity South Korean firms ‘must pursue’

      My guess, South Korea has done wing panels in the past for Boeing (717) and Airbus A320 (bottom wing panels) I can see Comac outsourcing wing panels (riveting) to South Korea and bring back to Xian for wing FAL This can get around buying new automated wing fastening systems from the west (Electroimpact and Gemcor (note Gemcor closed in mfg plant in Buffalo) and China can just copy existing wing assembly tooling for rate increases As for South Korea, they developed their own domestic supplier to build automatic fastening systems

      • Actually Comac is probably taking pages from the Boeing/Airbus sell aircraft/outsource production playbook. Knowing 40% of all commercial aircraft deliveries in the next 20 years is in Southeast Asia, Comac setting up regional suppliers for aircraft airframe subassemblies. This will reduce Comac capital expenditures, avoid an export restrictions for production equipment/parts to China from the US while setting up their Southeast Asia mfg. ecosystem.

        So while they are flying around Southeast Asia showing off the Comac C919, they are setting the stage for talks in production

        • Well in 10 years and they are up to a whole 150 a year?

          Or the fact they are working on turning it into an all Chinese aircraft?

          I don’t think so!

          • Yes 150 a year for C919 in 10 years is about right…12 a month rate, right now they have production capacity of 4 a month

            Yes again, they will follow MC21 to make more domestic content and add more additive mfg parts

            I do think so!

          • David P:

            First you say they will outsource to South Korea and then its domestic content.

            South Korea just jumps into the mix?

            I don’t see it. Nor the C919 ever having the numbers built in a year let alone a month to justify anyone gearing up for it.

            I would call it excessive exuberance when the C919 is called being mass produced.

            It has no logic, its a puff piece. Could have, would have, should have.

          • Trans:

            Asia-Pacific markets to represent more than 40% of global demand with half of that total in China. Out 32K single aisle delivered in the next 20 years…32k x .40 = 12k in Southeast Asia.

            12k x .50 for China..6,000 single aisle for China /20 =300 single aisle a year or 300/12 or 25 a month….10 a month for C919…15 a month Airbus and/or Boeing!

            Boeing Forecasts Demand for 42,600 New Commercial Jets Over Next 20 Years

          • No doubt export control by U.S. would have zero impact on production rate.
            By solutions are coming … I wonder who are the ultimate losers at the end?

          • Oops. *But* solutions…

            P.S. It took Airbus over ten years to ramp up production rate of the A320 family above 150/year.

  8. The response to Boeing’s system failure leading to forgetting 4 bolts is way more than P&W PW1100G early failures on UAL A321neo’s.
    You would think FAA should review P&W as close as they now look at Boeing.

    • claes:

      You could say the same thing for RR and the Trent 1000.

      Its an area I have issues with as the engines are test articles to start with and changes are made to industrialize the engines, but that is not followed up with an Industrialized test program.

      GE shedding the turbines is one of the worst cases. They changed coating and the first test was a high speed taxi test as I recall.

      If it had held a bit longer then you could have had not only an in flight engine failure but two of them.

  9. Why doesn’t Leeham update their x feed any longer? I assume it’s political disdain for Musk’s censorship positions contra dogma but I rarely visit the website as I don’t see the posts ever in my feed.

    • Texl: The service that was tied to Twitter, refused to that the extortion fee that Musk imposed, so that feed was dropped. We use an alternate service now that feeds Twitter but sometimes there’s a delay of a couple of hours to post when its automated. I’ll occasionally Tweet directly and it goes up instantly. Double check to see if you are following me. Twitter has been known to Unfollow people without the user’s consent or knowledge.


  10. “United’s annual report is out, they now expect 88 aircraft deliveries for 2024, 39 less aircraft than they expected last year at this time and far less than the 191 “contractual” deliveries dating back to the roll out of the United Next Plan.”

    2024 Contractual/Expected aircraft deliveries
    787 8 / 7
    MAX 8 43 / 37
    MAX 9 34 / 19
    MAX 10 80 / –
    A321neo 26 / 25

      • AB is more open about delay in deliveries and willing to renegotiate contractual delivery, including payments of *predelivery deposit*.

        • Seems to be working for them, if they can get 25 out of 26 promised A321’s delivered. Some 96% of what is expected.

          What I find scary about deposits and PDP’s for BA is that they’ve been given some $56 billion from airlines and have little to show for it.

          • Frank P:

            I would put it into its their problem and you have go guess that they got something out of the deal (or thought they would).

          • When an airline customer bets to take delivery of over 150 MAX 10 in 2024 & 2025 but in all likelihood gets none, it’s a bigger problem for the airline customer than the mainframer I guess.

            P.S. How is BA/BCA going to fill those production slots for MAX 10 in 2025 (assuming FAA lifts their restriction on delivery)?
            @Scott How many MAX 7/10 are scheduled for delivery in 2024/25?

          • @Pedro: Only a few dozen were scheduled.

    Revisitng this reporting on Boeing from January 2020
    ”Sometimes you have to let things fail big so that everyone can identify a problem…
    The documents offer a look inside a workforce fielding the simulators under tremendous pressure from the weight of what it viewed as “systemic” cultural issues where leadership “messages are about meeting schedule, not delivering quality,” […]
    “Integrity when lives are on the line on the aircraft and training programs shouldn’t be taken with a pinch of salt,” said one Boeing staffer in the disclosed documents. In the most stark assessment, the staffer continued, asking their colleagues in an instant message exchange from February 2018, “Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t.”
    “No,” replied the second person. […]
    While much of the criticism is leveled at TRU, the staffers turned a critical eye on Boeing’s culture toward the development. “We put ourselves in this position by picking the lowest cost supplier and signing up to impossible schedules. Why did the lowest ranking and most unproven supplier receive the contract? Solely based on the bottom dollar,” according to one email thread that stretched between two employees from May 31 to June 1, 2018. [..]
    The simulator strategy was flawed at the outset, the staffer contended. “It starts from our supplier selection process (or lack of) and continues to how we manage the supplier, the quality and support of Boeing data packages, substandard/non-existent requirements management, lack of resource staffing, lack of the right resources, lack of accountability, and hybrid ownership of programs/projects,” according to the two-day email thread. “It ends with our repeated decisions to push products into the field to meet often arbitrary schedules despite suppliers not delivering on commitments and clear quality concerns.” […]
    “I don’t know how to fix these things…It’s systemic. It’s culture,” one staffer wrote in the thread. Perpetually in search of strategies and techniques for lowering its costs for everything from labor costs to airplane development, Boeing own employees said its short-term focus led invariably to higher costs. Any savings that Boeing had derived from its low cost contract, wrote the same staffer, “cause us to unnecessarily spend amounts of effort (=$$$) to end up with poor quality products and pat ourselves on the back about it.”

    • “…underscores the lack of detailed alerting in the master caution system aboard all generations of the 737 […]

      Meanwhile, at least one major U.S. airline is monitoring compliance with the requirement to turn off the anti-ice system on its Max fleet in dry air within five minutes. So far, it’s been mixed …

    • An 18 months timeline means certification of the MAX 7 won’t arrive before the second-half of 2025?

    • FG: Emirates may not receive its first Boeing 777X until 2026
      “Emirates would continue to operate its Airbus A380 fleet until the late 2030s.”

      It’s more the airline’s problem than BA’s?

  12. “The FAA flagged a new concern with @Boeing 737 MAX engine anti-ice system

    And now, it’s not just the MAX with an engine anti-ice system problem

    A separate fault with the same system caused damage on some 787s

    “Still, with these two Boeing jets in the air 24/7 somewhere around the globe, even a remote vulnerability cannot be ignored.

  13. Calhoun’s legacy?

    WSJ: Boeing is in talks to acquire Spirit AeroSystems

    How much LT debt does SPR have?

      • Boeing’s!

        Just to hamper Airbus.

        After GE ingested Avio the airbus A400M gearbox issues started.

          • I’d counter that with the assessment from that bond movie.

            thrice is enemy action.

      • Reuters is reporting that Airbus is looking at buying Belfast

        • Belfast also supplies Bombardier Challenger 350/650, Global 5500/6500/7500.

      • What are the medium term impacts to BA/BCA?
        Can IAM 839 members attain wage parity with workers in the Greater Seattle Area?
        What are the benefits that can only be achieved (especially in quality management/assurance) by owning Spirit directly?

        • I know Spirit makes a lot of Boeing stuff in Wichita, what do they maker for Airbus there?

          Boeing gets the 787 nose back as well as 767/777 nose, those are some serious chunks of serious for an aircraft.

          • @TW: SPR Wichita does some A320 component work. The real work is the Belfast, N Ireland, plant for the A220 wings (and potential plans for A320 wing work); and Kinston (NC), which does fuselage panels for the A350.

          • See:
            Airbus A220
            (formerly Bombardier C Series)
            Since 2009, Spirit has designed and built the pylon for the Airbus A220 commercial jet (formerly Bombardier C Series). In addition to the pylon, the work package for both the CS100 and CS300 aircraft models includes systems, strut-to-wing hardware and the aft fairing package. The Belfast site is responsible for the design and manufacture of the advanced composite wings for the A220 family of aircraft including wing assembly and integration, and control surfaces. The site is also responsible for the manufacture of the Mid Fuselage.

            Airbus A320
            Spirit AeroSystems builds the wing leading and trailing edge elements of all the A320 family of aircraft at the company’s plant in Prestwick, Scotland. The components for these narrow-body jets are shipped to Airbus’ three A320 assembly lines in Toulouse, France; Mobile, Alabama; and Tianjin, China. New composite technology for the spoiler developed by Spirit will appear on the A320neo in mid-2019.

            Airbus A350 XWB
            The Airbus A350 is a key program for Spirit. The central section panels are built in Kinston, North Carolina, then incorporated into the fuselage (Section 15) in Saint-Nazaire, France. Spirit also manufactures the A350 wing front spar and fixed leading edge.

            no longer:
            Airbus A380
            Spirit AeroSystems in Prestwick, Scotland, builds wing components (droop slats) for the A380 Superjumbo, the world’s largest passenger jet.

            Except for A350 work things seem to happen in Europe?

  14. “Spirit has hired bankers to explore strategic options and has had preliminary discussions with Boeing, the Journal reported”

    “Spirit’s shares have lost more than 70% of their value over the last five years, according to LSEG data.”

    “Spirit is also exploring selling operations in Ireland that make parts for Airbus, according to the report. Spirit’s market capitalization stood at $3.3 billion as of Thursday’s close”

    • Haven’t we been previously told that Boing buying Spirit
      was “unfeasible”, yadda-yadda? The story seems worth
      following for now anyway, even if it proves to be a mere distraction from a bigger one.

        • IMU:
          Airbus can’t live with the upheaval of a Spirit bankruptcy.
          I don’t think a Boeing buy out would in any way be different from a bankruptcy in that respect?

          • If Boing can somehow buy and reintegrate (not an easy task!) Spirit, I don’t think think Airbus
            will necessarily come out at a loss.

            I support whichever VLC entity treats its employees and suppliers better, over the long term. Could be Airbus, could be COMAC, could be Embraer.

      • This is the result of “Boeing Partnership for Poverty Program” That said, if Spirit Aero has these issues, what about other Boeing’s First Tier Risk Sharing Partners.

        Need to wonder about MHI in Japan for 787 wing (low production rate) and mfg space tied up for low rate 767 fuselage work.

        Let’s not forget MHI scrapping their regional jet program a few years ago

        • For MHI -I forgot to mention the 777/777x programs….low rates for 777 and basically non existence production (e.g. 20 777x) for the new equipment for the 777x that was installed on the factory floor in 2016

          Wonder how MHI program accounting works for these programs?

  15. I guess this is *not* unexpected:

    “SCOOP: After a month and a half where Boeing repeatedly said it wasn’t changing the schedule its 737 supply chain rely on, the plane maker has finally acknowledged that the ramp up milestones will be delayed

    “Boeing won’t hit its pre-pandemic goal of 57 aircraft per month until February 2026, from a previous estimate for August 2025.” […]

    “Some suppliers had privately questioned whether Boeing would maintain its previous master schedule if the production freeze extended past a couple months, while others raised concerns that small and medium sized businesses could find themselves in financial straits after making costly capital investments in anticipation of higher production.”

    • Boing: “We’re awesome, everyday!”

      Boing’s employees, suppliers, and various onlookers: “do tell.”

      I’m a little curious about the 737MAX™10 certification, and the ever-receding 777-X TIA, myself.
      Nothing to worry about, I’m sure. 😉

  16. Sometimes I get the impression Pedro is having a posting discussion with himself.

    I will be the first to admit I talk to (or at) myself from time to time.

    Usually its, Who Made That Decision?, only to have it echo in my head.

    Not that I am not Boeing’s worst critic but when faced with an unknown, even the worst criminal organization in the World talks to its consigliere before jumping into the fray.

    Are we surprised it took Boeing some time? I am amazed at how fast they got information out to their suppliers.

  17. 20 years after D Gates wrote the scoop of possible Wichita plant sale.

    “Update 20 years on: Buying Spirit would reverse the largest divestment in Boeing’s modern history Boeing’s failed strategy to become a “large-scale system integrator” of work largely done by suppliers It lost control and hollowed out internal expertise

    “A successful deal would incidentally leave Spirit CEO Shanahan — the former top Boeing executive who also served as deputy defense secretary under President Donald Trump after leaving Boeing — positioned to potentially step up as the next CEO of Boeing

    • ‘Boeing’s failed strategy to become a “large-scale system integrator” ‘

      A cargo cult copy of Airbus arrangement was destined to fail.
      Management seems to have zero access to the (foundational) concepts used and needed.

      “A successful deal would incidentally leave Spirit CEO Shanahan — …………… — positioned to potentially step up as the next CEO of Boeing”

      Einstein: doing the same and expecting something different as outcome is madness.

      What changes ( to the better ) are expected from fishing in the same pond for more capable management?

      • ““A successful deal would incidentally leave Spirit CEO Shanahan — …………… — positioned to potentially step up as the next CEO of Boeing””

        McDonald Douglas 2.0 Boeing buys Spirit Aero and Spirit Aero management leads Boeing………taking a play from the Harry Stonecipher playbook!

  18. Airbus has the cash to buy Spirit. It contracted substantial A320 and A350 packages. But it would be unacceptable, congress would force DoC to step in. For Boeing buying Spirit might be a feasible option.

    • Clearly Boeing buying Spirit is feasible. Best would be an Airbus/Boeing bid for Spirit.

      Agreed protectionist aspect would weight in.

      I know of one of the Controls Industry (BAS aka Building Automation System) where a competitor bought out the heart of another competitors Main Processor Controller (director general of up to 200 distributed specific equipment processors) . Said MPC was sub contracted out to a much smaller company originally.

      For several years they continued to provide that Processor to the competitor.

      Its possible to keep on supplying parts to someone else.

      The biggest aspect would be the A220 Wing Factory. As that Wing is exclusive to the A220 and is not going anywhere Airbus future wise, shrug.
      If Boeing could make money on it, why not? They could use some centers of productivity.

      I am sure Boeing first move is to try to sell the non Boeing plants and any ops.

      But if they can’t get the price out of them, then keep them an annoy Airbus.

      Airbus best move would be to buy it and integrate it into the UK Wing operation.

      • Wouldn’t be interesting to see if Tata (India) would buy A220 Wing Factory and become a instant first tier supplier for Airbus commercial.

  19. And it does not solve any problems for Boeing and causes more.

    1. By by to the Piggy Bank (16 billion from one report)

    2. They can’t manage what they have, now they have a whole lot more to manage. From my standpoint the issues on the KC-46A were failure to have a good group and they put in what they had and it lurched from one mess to another. Boeing had the contract so they could ignore the USAF. Add in the other defense program problems as well as the space program.

    At the core is Boeing failure to deal with the quality control area.


    American Airlines places orders for Airbus, Boeing and Embraer aircraft

    March 4, 2024
    American orders 85 Airbus A321neo, 85 Boeing 737 MAX 10 and 90 Embraer E175 aircraft.
    Orders enable American to upgauge aircraft on domestic and short-haul international routes and offer more premium seats than any other U.S. airline.
    American expects to remain within its previously announced guidance for capacity and capital expenditures inclusive of the aircraft orders.
    With growing customer demand for a premium travel experience, American will retrofit its A319 and A320 fleets beginning in 2025, increasing the number of domestic first class seats on each aircraft.
    Narrowbody orders complement existing orders of Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A321XLR long-haul aircraft.

  21. A vote of confidence?? Sure sure 😂

    “Given some of their recent challenges, we have *negotiated for full variant flexibility, financial protections*, and we have sufficient Airbus option positions that we will execute if Boeing is delayed in certification or in delivery,” American Airlines CFO Devon May said …

    • I think AA already operates nearly 300 A321s, none of which is old. Having some sort of dual source policy has strategic advantages.

      A359s will come IMO, unless you believe payload range is not so important on the Pacific and the 787-10 is just fine.

  22. Wow

    FG: Airbus begins tests to extend service life of A320 family

    “Airbus is about to begin fatigue tests of full-scale A320 sections as it undertakes a major programme to extend the life of twinjet that could ultimately result in the flight-hour (FH) limit being tripled to 180,000h.

    • That has been an ongoing concern.
      this from 2018:
      “ESG I for A320 will extend lifespan to 60,000 cycles and 120,000 h and with ESG II to 90,000 cycles and 180,000 h”

      reaches back beyond 2010.
      Saw a time when this effort went slower ( IMU mostly due to no pressing need ) and the balance between FlightHours and Cycles was adapted.

  23. Airbus is making upgrades to the A350-1000 to allow it to fly 17 hours from Australia to Europe (not project Sunrise).

  24. Fun fact:
    In 2011 AAL ordered 130 A320ceo family, 130 A320neo family and 100 MAX. Airbus has delivered all but the last ten A321neo ordered (except 30 converted to A321XLR), OTOH Boeing delivered 59 MAX only.

  25. @ Robert L

    The issue with issues is not having issues
    but handling those issues with convoluted excuses.

    You see the difference?

  26. Shame on you Robert;
    How dare you post an Airbus AD, and not expect the usual repercussions that go along that.
    A definite no-no here.
    Should really know better .🥺

  27. Yeah, I got it now, i really should have known better.
    Didn’t take long for one to take offense,and be barraged by the usual rebuttal, and convoluted thoughts of anyone who dares to post an AD on the almighty A350 without expecting some retribution.
    Or, how certain individuals continually makes excuses, for a company’s issues, that not to his liking !!

    • [Comment deleted as violation of Reader Comment rules.]


      • Next time ,try practicing what you preach.You really are bitter, Uwe..
        A pity ,you don’t like a slice of humble pie to go with your “Jingoism”.
        Boo who…
        Uwe is upset !!
        Scott can clearly see I simply posted an AD not on Boeing ,but your beloved Airbus..
        And your bitter about it !!
        You don’t like it ;
        Take it up with him!!

        • Careful, Robert. You have a justified complaint but contact me about it-don’t use the open forum to respond like you did.

          I’m on it.


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