Boeing’s awful start to 2024 just got worse after 50 people were injured on one of its planes due to a ‘technical event’


Boeing’s tumultuous year went from bad to worse on Monday after a “technical event” led a 787-9 Dreamliner to nosedive, injuring 50 people on a flight from Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand.

One passenger, Brian Jokat, told the BBC that the plane “dropped unlike anything” he had ever experienced before, causing some passengers to hit the roof and break the roof panels. After it landed, New Zealand’s Hato Hone St. John ambulance service treated about 50 people, said Anna Pownall, its area operations manager, in a statement. A total of 12 people were transported to the hospital, including one in serious condition and the remainder with moderate to minor injuries, according to Pownall.

Latam Airlines, which operated the plane, told multiple outlets that the incident involved “a technical event during the flight which caused a strong movement.”

Latam said in a press release that the plane “experienced a strong shake whose causes are being investigated,” and when reached for comment a spokesperson for the airline directed Fortune to its publicly available statement. A spokesperson for Boeing told Fortune in a statement that the company was “working to gather more information about the flight.” 

The Latam flight injuries are just the latest of a string of incidents involving Boeing-made planes since the start of the year. In the past week alone, a Boeing plane has veered off the runway, lost a tire, and shot flames from its engine—all in separate incidents. 

Although the plane that lost a tire was not built recently and the flaming engine was reportedly caused by bubble wrap that was sucked into it, the proximity of the incidents to each other is a bad look for a company already under scrutiny.

Boeing’s most recent troubles began in January when a door plug on a 737-MAX 9 operated by Alaska Airlines blew off while the plane was in midair, requiring it to turn back only 20 minutes after departure. 

Following the event, a preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found that the door plug that blew off may have been missing bolts. The Federal Aviation Administration audited Boeing and a supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, after the door plug incident and found several noncompliance issues, according to a statement by the agency. The FAA gave Boeing 90 days to outline a plan to address the audit’s findings as well as previous concerns over its “safety culture.” 

The Justice Department has now opened a criminal probe into the door plug incident in January and a grand jury has been convened to examine the evidence, the Washington Post reported, citing a person briefed on the matter. The probe may not necessarily result in charges.

Boeing’s stock has plummeted 23% since the start of the year thanks in part to the recent issues. The company’s shares were down 3% as of market close on Monday.

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