It’s been a bad year for Boeing. Again.
On Saturday, a Boeing 777 operated by United Airlines was grounded after one of its engines caught fire mid-flight, shedding debris over Colorado. The plane, which was flying from Denver to Hawaii, landed safely, and none of the 229 passengers and 10 crew were injured. Boeing ($BA) stock fell 3.1% on Monday morning.
The engine failure was caused by malfunctioning fan blades in the plane’s Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engine, according to the FAA. Boeing recommended that all 777s with PW400 engines should be grounded immediately. Although most 777s are made with GE engines, some 69 in-service planes in the US and 174 worldwide use PW4000 engines, operated by airlines like United, Asiana Airlines, Korean Air, and Japan Airlines.
The engine failure is the latest fiasco for Boeing, whose reputation took a major hit after its 737 Max planes were found to be faulty. After two fatal crashes and 346 deaths, the FAA issued a 20-month ban on the aircraft. The 737 Max is back in service as of January after fixes were made on its experimental computer-based autopilot system. Thankfully, the 777 malfunction isn’t nearly as severe in scale as the infamous 737 Max saga.
Boeing’s problems don’t end there. While the aircraft giant was working on repairs for the 737 Max, the pandemic curtailed any non-essential travel, bringing the aviation industry to a near standstill. The company announced its latest round of 7,000 layoffs in October, bringing the grand total to 26,000. It posted a net loss of nearly $12 billion for 2020, a record for the company. Boeing has also taken on $37 million in debt just to stay afloat during the pandemic.
"The demand for commercial airline travel has fallen off a cliff," Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun told CNN in April. "The pandemic is also delivering a body blow to our business."
Boeing has also had delays in its 777X model, as well as quality issues with its 787 Dreamliner. The company dramatically scaled back production of both planes amid staff cuts in 2020.
Boeing’s job listings are down considerably since the pandemic set in, but they’ve been holding steady since April. The company currently has 860 openings, a 48% decrease year-over-year. Despite the drop, listings may be edging up. The current number is a 11% increase from this time last quarter.
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