Airplane and rocket manufacturer Boeing has been in damage control recently.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on April 9, 2019

Boeing, one of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers, has seen its reputation take a hit after one of its 737 Max jets crashed in Ethiopia, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board.

The tragedy came less than a year after another Boeing 737 Max jet, Lion Air Flight JT610, crashed into the Java Sea just off Indonesia, causing 189 fatalities.

Company touting safety changes after the two deadly crashes

The company’s shares had plummeted in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, with around US$28 billion being wiped off the company’s value. The 737 Max were a huge component of its business, making up around a third of all sales.

Boeing has continued to produce the planes and earlier this week promised software fixes and other safety improvements to avert another such disaster. Yet the company only committed to minimal design changes to the aircraft, which is widely used across the industry. The changes were designed to be as minimal as possible to enable airlines to easily integrate the new models into their fleet with little training.

On Tuesday 9 April, Boeing will report on how many planes it delivered last quarter. The company does not usually disclose dollar figures as part of the deliveries report, but given the calamities it has faced and the enormity of the task it faces in winning back market confidence, it will reportedly detail the financial costs of the 737 crisis.

This report will precede the Annual Meeting of Shareholders on 29 April.

The company halted delivery of its 737 Max planes when they were all grounded on 13 March.

Indonesian airline Garuda is the only company so far to publicly disclose it has cancelled an order for the planes. Its order was for 50 planes at a cost of US$4.9 billion, still small change for a company with a backlog of more than 5,000 orders for the 737 Max model. China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings has also put an order for 100 of the planes on hold until it is satisfied they are safe.

Boeing: “We’re going to do everything we can”

Vice President of Product Strategy and Development Mike Sinnett told reporters last week that the company was hard at work addressing the problems. “We mourn this loss of life and we’re going to do everything we can do to ensure that accidents like these never happen again,” he said during a demonstration¬†at the company’s assembly plant. The event was to showcase the updated automated flight control system and the revised pilot training protocols.

The demonstration was not enough to convince Bank of America, which has downgraded Boeing to the equivalent of a ‘hold’ rating.

While the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes have strong similarities, it is still unclear what the link between the two is.

Investigations are ongoing and the FBI recently joined a criminal investigation into the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplanes.

Header image credit: Jeff Hitchcock