Boeing whistleblower says 737 Max disaster 'wasn't a surprise, unfortunately'

Boeing  (BA) - Get Free Report shares dropped Monday after the airplane manufacturer found itself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons once again after one of its planes was forced to make an emergency landing shortly after takeoff after a piece of its fuselage came off mid-flight. 

While the video of the incident is shocking, at least one industry watcher says that he was the least bit shocked that the company is still having quality control issues with its planes. 

Related: Boeing urges all airlines to inspect 737 MAX jets

"This was no surprise, unfortunately. I know it is stunning for passengers, but for those of us who have been monitoring what's been going on for a while with the Max it really wasn't a surprise," said Ed Pierson, a former senior manager for the Boeing 737 program who testified against Boeing at a Congressional hearing after two Boeing 737 MAX planes crashed within months of each other in late 2018 and early 2019. 

"The company has struggled mightily with manufacturing and we've had over 20 production quality defects. It's hard to keep up with all of them."

The 737 Max 9 grounding comes just as Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun looks to revive the aerospace giant's reputation and capitalize on a historic surge in aircraft demand from carriers around the world.

Boeing is also hoping to win permission to resume deliveries of its 737 Max aircraft to China, the world's biggest aircraft market, following its suspension of service in 2019 linked to fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Over 170 Boeing Max 9s, the type of plane that was involved in this weekend's incident, were grounded by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. 

Boeing has 1,370 737 MAX jets in service worldwide.

Images and video that have since gone viral on social media show just how harrowing the incident aboard Alaska Airlines flight 1282 was as the 171 passengers aboard the flight waited patiently for the plane to make it back safely to the ground. 

An opening is seen in the fuselage of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Boeing 737-9 MAX on Jan. 7, 2024

Handout&solGetty Images

“Safety is our top priority and we deeply regret the impact this event has had on our customers and their passengers. We agree with and fully support the FAA's decision to require immediate inspections of 737-9 airplanes with the same configuration as the affected airplane," Boeing said in a statement following the incident.

But Pierson isn't so sure.

"I think the heart of the problem is clearly there's a rush to produce airplanes," Pierson said. "Inside the factories there is a phrase the call 'schedule is king.' So even though the company speaks about the quality of their planes and the importance of that, what the employees are hearing on the factory floor is 'get your jobs done, finish your work , get done as fast as possible, move to the next plane.'"

Check out the full interview below. 

While many were shocked by the grounding of Boeing 737 Max-9 planes after Alaska Airlines' emergency landing, whistleblower Ed Pierson tells @lebeaucarnews that seeing the door plug blown off the plane mid-flight came as no surprise. $BA pic.twitter.com/o8DbtYd6fr

— Squawk on the Street (@SquawkStreet) January 8, 2024

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