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March 3, 2024

Emirates President Tim Clark to send own engineers to Boeing over safety concerns – FT

Emirates President Tim Clark has hit out at Boeing once again, warning that the US plane maker was in the “last chance saloon” as the company faces scrutiny over safety issues following January’s Alaska Airlines incident.

Shortly after takeoff, a section of the fuselage blew out mid-air on a 737 Max 9 aircraft operated by Alaska Airlines, leading to an emergency landing.

Clark told the Financial Times (FT) that, prompted by a “progressive decline” in standards, the Dubai-based airline would send its own engineers for the first time to observe the production process of the 777 at Boeing and its supplier Spirit AeroSystems.

“They have got to instil this safety culture which is second to none. They’ve got to get their manufacturing processes under review so there are no corners cut etc. I’m sure [chief executive] Dave Calhoun and [commercial head] Stan Deal are on that… this is the last chance saloon,” Clark told the FT.

Emirates is one of the largest customers for Boeing, placing aircraft orders worth $52 billion across 95 jets during the Dubai Airshow in November, which included 55 777-9 and 35 777-8 jets.

This isn’t the first time Clark has fired comments at Boeing over delays in deliveries or quality issues.

Shortly following the 737 Max 9 incident, Clark told Bloomberg the company had been facing “quality control problems for a long time” and the Alaskan Airlines case was “just another manifestation of that.”

On Sunday, in a message to employees, Boeing’s Deal said the 737 programme will spend several days in its Renton, Washington factory to focus on quality, including inspecting undelivered airplanes for a potential nonconformance.

Last week, during its fourth quarter results, Boeing suspended financial guidance for 2024, while reassuring investors it was focused on addressing the quality issues in recent months.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cleared the Max 9 to fly again weeks after the Alaskan Airlines incident, but the governing authority said it will not grant Boeing any production expansion of the Max. Boeing had aimed to get its Max production up to about 50 planes a month in 2025 or 2026 from the current 38 a month.