Boeing safety: Ryanair rues ‘minor issues’ with new Boeing aircraft

Boeing safety: Ryanair rues ‘minor issues’ with new Boeing aircraft
  • PublishedJanuary 12, 2024

Michael O’Leary, who is one of troubled Boeing’s largest customers, says the US planemaker is still yet to meet the levels of production quality he wants to see.

The boss of Ryanair has complained of “minor issues” with new aircraft delivered by Boeing as the US plane manufacturer battles to contain the fallout from its latest safety scare.

Michael O’Leary had used an interview with the Financial Times earlier this week to raise concerns about quality control at the US firm in the wake of a mid-air blowout for an Alaska Airlines 737 plane last week.

He said on Thursday that while he remained 100% committed to Boeing for its orders, largely due to price comparisons with its rival Airbus, Ryanair had found instances of poor standards in new planes sent from America.

Ryanair is Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers and one of Boeing’s largest customers.

It operates 737 MAX 8 planes and has MAX 10 variants on order but deliveries have taken longer than anticipated and remain behind schedule.

The Ireland-based carrier does not have any of the 737 MAX 9 aircraft that is at the centre of the safety investigation.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes operated by US airlines after a window and chunk of fuselage blew out of the Alaska plane on 5 January.

The incident happened shortly after the aircraft, packed with passengers, took off from an airport in Portland, Oregon.

Boeing chief executive Dave Calhoun told Sky News partner CNBC on Wednesday that a “quality escape” had taken place, and he was working hard with aviation officials to ensure no repeat.

The planes are expected to remain grounded until all checks have been completed and a preliminary report compiled by safety experts.

That could yet take several weeks.

The incident has hampered Boeing’s efforts to regain confidence since 2018.

Two fatal crashes, both involving MAX 8 aircraft, left 346 people dead and all MAX 8 planes rooted to the ground for almost two years while a fix to flawed flight control software was implemented.

Ryanair has supported the MAX 8s, repeatedly describing them as “gamechanger” aircraft for its business due to their capacity and fuel efficiency savings, since the planes were given the all clear.

Mr O’Leary told the Reuters news agency he had confirmed, following lengthy weekend phone calls with US, European and Irish regulators, that there was no read across from the MAX 9 troubles to the MAX 8 model Ryanair flies or the MAX 10s it has on order.

While he said Boeing had made “tremendous strides” in the last two years on production quality, “they’re not there yet”.

“We ourselves have found minor issues on aircraft deliveries that shouldn’t be occurring in a world class manufacturer like Boeing and I think Boeing have more to do on the quality control side,” he said.

Those concerns, he added, extended to fuselage supplier Spirit AeroSystems.

“We see no indication of any passenger concern… not one passenger,” he declared.


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