The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Boeing’s Speed-Up Caused the Airplane Door Blow-Out

Mar 11, 2024

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a new report on March 4 regarding the blow-out of a door plug on a 737 Max 9 airplane during an Alaska Airlines flight in January. The FAA says it has “halted any production expansion” of 737 Max 9 airplanes until the airplane’s manufacturer, Boeing, “provides a response,” within three months, to the FAA’s criticism of its “inadequate and confusing safety culture.”

So, the FAA says the Max 9’s manufacturing process is not safe. And all the FAA demands from Boeing is “a response” in three months? While Max 9 aircraft are already up and flying again, with the FAA’s blessing???

No, like Boeing, the FAA is also just putting on a show, pretending that it is doing something about the door blow-out that could have easily caused many deaths.

The blow-out was not an accident. It was a disaster bound to happen. And the FAA knew about it because, for years, Boeing workers had been reporting all kinds of problems on the production line created by Boeing’s reckless speed-up. But the FAA ignored them all. Not only that, but the FAA even ignored 1,200 malfunction reports Alaska Airlines filed within two years about the Max 9 planes they were flying!

For years, Boeing executives have been pushing workers to work faster and finish airplanes as quickly as possible to increase profit. They have been ordering workers to move airplanes through the line whether one section’s work was completed or not. They have also been assigning a lot of overtime, so workers have been constantly overworked and tired. On top of that, beginning in 2017, Boeing deliberately removed thousands of quality inspections to further accelerate production, cut labor costs, and increase profits.

In doing all this, Boeing executives not only ensured that mistakes would happen on the production line but also that mistakes would be overlooked. And that’s exactly what led to the Alaska Airlines incident on January 5: the door that flew out of the fuselage was missing four bolts that were supposed to hold it in place!

What Boeing executives have been doing, with the complicity of FAA regulators, is murderous—and it has, in fact, led to hundreds of deaths, when two Boeing 737 Max 8 airplanes crashed in 2018 and 2019, killing 346 people. After 51 other countries grounded the Max 8, the FAA, which had been dragging its feet, also grounded them for nearly two years. But still, as Ed Pierson, a former Boeing production manager has pointed out, the FAA did not even investigate the electrical problems the two crashed planes had.

In other words, true to their long-standing tradition, government officials not only let Boeing regulate itself, but they also let Boeing get away with mass murder.

In capitalist society, government officials do not get in the way of the profit drive of a big company like Boeing, pushed by Wall Street greed. They, in fact, aid and abet it.