Boeing shares opened sharply lower on Monday, January 8, following the incident which saw a door come loose during an Alaska Airlines flight on Friday. In early trading on Wall Street, the airline manufacturer’s price dropped 8.38%. That of its main subcontractor, Spirit AeroSystems, even fell by 13.74%. This is a new setback for the aircraft manufacturer, whose stock had recovered since the beginning of autumn, with the acceleration of its deliveries, long disrupted by technical problems. Alaska Airlines was also punished on Wall Street, dropping 5.56%.

In addition, the door of the 737 MAX 9 aircraft was found on Sunday, announced the president of the American transport safety agency, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Jennifer Homendy. A teacher recovered the piece of the plane, which fell in his garden in Portland, Oregon. “We’re going to go get it and start analyzing it,” the NTSB chief said at a press conference.

On Sunday, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun decided to cancel a conference that was to bring together the group’s leaders at the start of the week, replacing it with a safety meeting on Tuesday, open to all employees.

The NTSB, Boeing, Alaska Airlines and the American Civil Aviation Regulatory Agency (FAA), are seeking to establish the exact circumstances of the incident, which left a few minor injuries but could have ended “in a more tragic way ”, according to Ms. Homendy.

Series of setbacks for Boeing

The flying door was condemned, a configuration that Boeing offers to its customers when the number of existing emergency exits is already sufficient in relation to the number of seats in the aircraft. According to the NTSB, no one was seated in the two seats next to the door. According to passengers cited by American media, a teenager sitting in the row had his shirt torn off by the decompression, causing him minor injuries.

After this very rare malfunction, the FAA “required immediate inspections of certain Boeing 737 MAX 9s before they can resume flights”, this concerns 171 aircraft worldwide, she specified on X. As a result , airlines have grounded some Boeing 737 MAX 9s pending inspections. Keeping these aircraft on the ground has already led to the cancellation of more than a thousand flights since Saturday, according to data from the specialized site FlightAware, mainly for Alaska Airlines and United, which operate 144 of the 218 737 MAX 9 aircraft in circulation.

The companies Aeromexico, Copa Airlines – which operates twenty-one of these aircraft – and Turkish Airlines – which owns five – have also announced that they have grounded their planes. On the other hand, the European Aviation Safety Agency clarified that no operator in Europe was using the 737 MAX 9 with the technical options concerned.

The incident marks a new episode in a series of setbacks for Boeing. The most serious of these were the crashes of two 737 MAXs, in October 2018 in Indonesia and in March 2019 in Ethiopia, which caused the deaths of a total of 346 people. After these accidents, linked to the MCAS piloting software, all 737 MAXs were grounded for twenty months.

But Boeing has also suspended, on several occasions, for almost two years in total, deliveries of its long-haul 787 for manufacturing and inspection defects.

More recently, it was once again the 737 MAX that made headlines, after the discovery, in the fall, of faulty workmanship on the rear watertight bulkhead of the aircraft, then, in December, of a risk of a bolt loose on the rudder control system.