Boeing shares crashed at the opening of the market on Monday morning after a plug-in door flew out of a plane mid-air during an Alaska Airlines flight on 5 January. While the US aircraft manufacturer lost nearly $13 billion in market value, as Euronews points out, mors tua, vita mea (your death, my life), for its European competitor, Airbus, whose shares reached a record high this morning.
Following the incident, the US Federal Safety Administration (FAA) grounded all the Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft, a total of 171, pending safety inspections. The Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) only applies to the planes having a plug-in panel replacing one of the emergency doors mid-aircraft and, while there are no B737 Max 9s in the EU with this configuration, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also adopted the EAD.
Boing’s shares continued to drop on Tuesday, as preliminary inspections revealed faulty hardware, loose bolts, ignored warnings from pilots and CEO Dave Calhoun admitted the company’s mistake in the incident. Meanwhile, Airbus’s shares reached a record high of €145.2 this morning (11 January).
Even with this hiccup, Boeing’s market value remains higher than Airbus’ for the moment, at $137.84 billion (€125.72 billion) compared to €114 billion. But as Boeing keeps stumbling on a series of unfortunate events over the past few years, Airbus’ overtake in global production seems to be appearing in sight.
Models from the 737 Max family have been involved in several accidents over the past few years. In 2019, all Boeing 737 Max aircraft were grounded for one and a half years after two crashes occurred within 6 months of each other, a Lion Air flight in Indonesia and an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. Investigations revealed that both were caused by faulty aircraft. These made way for Airbus to supply 3 times more planes during the pandemic than Boeing.
While neither one of the two manufacturers could meet global demand by itself, Boeing needing to go back to the drawing board and reevaluating the safety of its aircraft makes way for Airbus to take the lead. In early 2022, the European manufacturer announced plans to increase jet production by 50% in the following 3 years, while Boeing’s production still lags behind.
In the most recent demonstration of the high quality of Airbus aircraft, the advanced burn-through resistant materials used for the A350 are considered to have kept the fire contained enough in Japan Airlines’ recent crash with a Coast Guard aircraft in Tokyo, allowing all passengers and crew to safely evacuate the plane.