Texas AG Ken Paxton announces investigation into Boeing supplier's operations

MONEY & BUSINESS: Texas AG Ken Paxton announces investigation into Boeing supplier’s operations

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday announced an investigation into Boeing parts supplier Spirit AeroSystems regarding its operations, as well as the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

Spirit AeroSystems is one of the largest manufacturers of aircraft parts in the world and makes the fuselages for the Boeing 737 and 787, as well as the Airbus A350 and the wings for the A220. The company’s work with Boeing has faced scrutiny in the wake of the midair blowout of a 737 Max 9’s door plug panel.

Paxton notified Spirit AeroSystems of the investigation in a letter requesting that the company produce documents related to manufacturing defects in its products. He is also calling for the company to produce documents related to its DEI commitments and whether those commitments are compromising its manufacturing processes.

“The potential risks associated with certain airplane models are deeply concerning and potentially life-threatening to Texans,” Paxton said in a press release. “I will hold any company responsible if they fail to maintain the standards required by law and will do everything in my power to ensure manufacturers take passenger safety seriously.”

Spirit AeroSystems did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the probe on Thursday. AP

The company faces a deadline of April 17 to provide the requested documents to the consumer protection division of the attorney general’s office.

Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems have been under increased scrutiny following the door plug panel blowout incident on Jan. 5. 

A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) indicated that four key missing bolts on the door plug frame contributed to the incident, which caused the cabin to depressurize and the Alaska Airlines flight to return to Oregon’s Portland International Airport for an emergency landing.

Catch up on Boeing’s ongoing airplane fiasco

Boeing has recently been plagued by safety concerns that began Jan. 5 after a door panel blew off a Boeing 737 MAX 9 jet during a flight from Oregon to California. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the plane — which was operated by Alaska Airlines — appeared to be missing four key bolts.

Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, threatened to shun Boeing after the carrier’s fleet of MAX 9 aircraft was grounded in the wake of the near-disastrous Alaska Airlines door blowout.

Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, warned that another midair door blowout like the Boeing 737 MAX 9 fiasco “can happen again,” adding there was a “problem with the process” of production.

Disaster struck again a week after the initial incident when a Boeing plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Japan due to a crack in the cockpit window.

A Boeing 757 lost its front tire as the aircraft was preparing to depart for an international flight in late January. At Atlanta International Airport, a Delta flight bound for Bogota, Colombia, was taxiing across the runway into takeoff position when another plane alerted the control tower that something was amiss.

Later, a UK passenger was alarmed after noticing pieces of tape on the exterior of a Boeing 787 during a flight to India, as seen in shocking photos.

A United Airlines Boeing 777-300 aircraft suffered a midair fuel leak and was forced to make an emergency landing Monday, March 11, marking the fifth incident the airline reported in a little over a week.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary previously said he’s made “loud complaints” to Boeing over quality control.

Whistleblower John Barnett raised safety concerns at the airline’s factories and provided his first testimony at a bombshell lawsuit against Boeing. He was found dead in his truck after he failed to show up for the second part of his testimony on Monday.

The incident caused the grounding of all 737 Max 9 aircraft for inspections. The aircraft returned to service in late January following inspections by airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration and the manufacturers.

Other incidents have added to the aerospace companies’ woes, such as Boeing’s identification of misdrilled holes on 50 undelivered fuselages of 737 Max jets.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun, who announced this week that he will step down from his role at the end of this year, visited Spirit AeroSystems about two weeks after the Jan. 5 incident.

The headquarters of Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc
The headquarters of Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc. REUTERS

Boeing is in discussions with Spirit AeroSystems about potentially acquiring the supplier, which was formerly a Boeing subsidiary before it was spun off. 

A month ago, Spirit confirmed that it is in talks with Boeing about its potential acquisition, although it noted that there is uncertainty surrounding whether an agreement will be reached and consummated.

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