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What’s going on with Boeing planes? Safety concerns prompt flyers to change their flights.

by Staff

Airplane manufacturing giant Boeing is going viral this week for all the wrong reasons.

The company’s fleet of commercial airplanes has been rife with safety issues, prompting widespread media attention and mounting concerns from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and flyers. Here’s what you need to know.

What is going on with Boeing planes, and what does John Oliver have to do with it?

It’s been a turbulent few weeks for Boeing planes, as several aircraft have experienced alarming issues mid-flight — we’ll get into that later — but the company started getting a lot of heat for its insufficient safety protocols after John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight did a brilliant and damning segment on it last week.

We’ve embedded the entire video, which is worth a watch. But the TL;DR of the commentary from Oliver: Boeing’s company culture shifted away from safety and quality to increasing shareholder value, which resulted in, well, plummeting safety and quality.

Oliver goes through the history of the company in depth, providing context for the recent safety issues. It’s all fitting and in line with the reporting in 2018 and 2019 after two Boeing 737 Max crashes killed 346 people.

What’s happening now with Boeing?

In short: a few things, none of them good. The New York Times reported that the FAA examined Boeing and found it failed 33 of 89 audits after a high-profile incident where a panel blew off a 737 Max 9 flight before reaching cruising altitude.

You’ve most likely seen footage of that terrifying incident where, by some miracle, everyone survived.

The Times goes into a bit of detail on these issues, but the FAA gave Boeing 90 days to come up with a quality-improvement plan.

The latest Boeing safety incidents

Fortunately, there haven’t been fatal incidents in the past few weeks, but Boeing planes have experienced significant safety issues. Fifty people were injured on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner that took a nosedive flying from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand on Monday.

Passenger Brian Jokat told CNN that the pilot said they lost control of the plane, causing the incident.

“I immediately engaged with him and said, ‘What was that?’ And he openly admitted, he said, ‘I lost control of the plane. My gauges just kind of went blank on me,'” Jokat told CNN.

There have been a few other recent instances as well, including a Boeing 777-200 that had a tire fall off shortly after takeoff in San Francisco on Thursday. The flight was re-routed to Los Angeles and landed without any injuries. A Boeing plane landing in Houston on Friday ran off the runway into a grassy area. Last week, a Boeing 737-900’s engine caught fire some 20 minutes after takeoff, and videos of the incident, naturally, went viral.

This could be more folks noticing common relative incidents because Boeing is in the news already, but the fact remains there have been numerous incidents as of late.

Boeing whistleblower John Barnett found dead

John Barnett — a longtime Boeing employee who had been providing evidence in a whistleblower lawsuit against the company — was found dead on Monday. The Charleston County coroner said the death was from a “self-inflicted” wound, the BBC reported.

Barnett, who had worked as a quality manager, had alleged that Boeing put workers under intense pressure which led to compromised safety. He did several interviews over the years alleging Boeing pushed aside safety procedures to keep things running smoothly.

The timing of Barnett’s death has caused a lot of internet speculation, in ways that might be expected. As of right now, however, we don’t know very many details about the 62-year-old’s passing. Still, people are, in general, very suspicious of Boeing.

What now for Boeing?

Well, that’s not clear. The company has to come up with a quality improvement plan per the FAA’s orders.

“Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said last month. “Making foundational change will require a sustained effort from Boeing’s leadership, and we are going to hold them accountable every step of the way.”

However, the FAA hasn’t specified how they would punish the company if it did not deliver results.

For now, customers seem to be taking things into their own hands. There have been a lot of posts from folks saying they’d no longer fly in a Boeing aircraft. And people are now using sites like Kayak to filter Boeing planes out of their travel plans.

There may be a lot more people suddenly interested in boarding only Airbus aircraft moving forward. And with all the news out there, who could blame them?

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