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10 May, 2024 21:38

Multiple plane mishaps revive scrutiny on Boeing

An emergency in Japan follows two landing incidents in Türkiye and a crash in Senegal
Multiple plane mishaps revive scrutiny on Boeing

One Boeing-made plane has crashed and three more have suffered technical problems this week, bringing renewed focus on the US aerospace giant’s production woes.

A United Airlines 737-800 series passenger jet had to make an emergency landing about 40 minutes after takeoff on Friday. Flight UA166 from Fukuoka, Japan to Guam had reported a “problem with flaps.”

In the early hours of Thursday, an Air Senegal 737-38J skidded off the runway during takeoff from the Blaise Diagne International Airport (AIBD) in Dakar, Senegal. There were 73 passengers and six crew on board the flight to Bamako, Mali. Eleven were injured in the incident, four of them seriously.

On Wednesday afternoon, a Corendon Airlines Boeing 737-800 blew out a tire on its front landing gear upon arriving at the Gazipasa-Alanya Airport (GZP) in southern Türkiye. All 190 people on board were safely evacuated but the wheel hubs were heavily damaged, according to the airport authority.

Earlier that same day, a Boeing 767 had to make an emergency landing at Istanbul Airport (IST). Flight FX6238, operated by FedEx, arrived from Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) but had to land “without opening the front landing gear due to a technical issue,” the Istanbul airport operator said in a statement.

It took the airport a day to safely move the plane from Runway 16R, according to Istanbul Airport CEO Selahattin Bilgen.

The series of problems came after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it had opened an investigation into one of Boeing’s factories. Employees at a South Carolina facility making the Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet may have skipped mandatory inspections and falsified records, the agency said.

The aerospace company has previously reported issues with the wide-body 787, blaming them on US sanctions against Russia that disrupted the production of a key component.

Boeing took substantial losses in 2019-2020, after the FAA grounded all 737-MAX planes due to a string of fatal crashes. The agency eventually blamed the crashes on a combination of bad sensors and software problems and Boeing has insisted the planes were perfectly safe ever since. Leaked internal memos suggested otherwise, however.

Two Boeing whistleblowers have turned up dead in the past three months. Joshua Dean, 45, died suddenly of antibiotic-resistant pneumonia on May 2. The former Spirit AeroSystems employee had raised the alarm over lax standards in the production of the 737-MAX.

John Barnett, a former Boeing quality control manager, was found dead in March, just before he was due to testify in a whistleblower lawsuit against the company. The authorities ruled the incident a suicide.

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