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15 July, 2024
 
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iPhone survives 5,000-meter fall from Boeing

Mid-air drama triggers regulatory scrutiny

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In a dramatic turn of events for aviation giant Boeing, the anticipation surrounding the approval of new models of its best-selling MAX jet has been overshadowed by a mid-air breach that has thrust the planemaker into the regulatory spotlight.

The incident unfolded as a 737 MAX 9 aircraft operated by Alaska Airlines, carrying 171 passengers, experienced a door plug falling off during Friday's flight. Investigators are now diligently working to pinpoint the cause of this unexpected occurrence, as the aviation community closely monitors the situation.

CAI VON RUMOHR, an analyst at TD Cowen, sheds light on the expected checks mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Contrary to recent issues, Von Rumohr anticipates a relatively swift process, estimating the required inspection time to be between 4-8 hours. He emphasizes that once the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determines the root cause, a fix may involve more rigorous inspection of exit door plugs at both Spirit and Boeing.

NICOLAS OWENS, an analyst at Morningstar, provides a nuanced perspective on the financial impact of potential inspections or revisions to how the 737 MAX-9 fuselages are manufactured by Spirit Aero Systems. While Owens believes it may not have a substantial financial impact on Boeing, he underscores that the dramatic nature of the flaw raises questions about the company's product governance.

JPMORGAN ANALYSTS draw attention to potential global consequences, particularly in China, where the government has yet to greenlight the resumption of 737 MAX deliveries. Despite optimistic signals in recent months, Friday's incident could further delay this crucial process.

JEFFERIES ANALYSTS delve into the cost implications, estimating a $1.7 million expense for inspections across the 171 affected aircraft. Despite potential concessions, they perceive a relatively low cost of compliance, citing the FAA's guidance of a 4-8 hour inspection per jet.

In a remarkable and unexpected twist amid the aviation turmoil, an iPhone becomes an unlikely hero. The phone, which fell from the Alaska Airlines Boeing during the mid-air incident, survives a 5,000-meter fall and is discovered by an internet user near Portland, Oregon. Found in flight mode with the battery at half capacity, the iPhone's screen displays an airline email related to baggage. The head of the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration, Jennifer Homdy, expresses gratitude on social media, adding an extraordinary layer to the ongoing investigation.

The incident on Friday night saw the door of the Boeing 737 Max 9 operated by Alaska Airlines open and detach from the fuselage in mid-flight over Portland. This detachment caused decompression in the cabin, resulting in a suction effect that ripped off a minor's shirt. During this chaotic phase, the cell phone that was charging at the time miraculously ends up surviving the ordeal.

As Boeing navigates through regulatory challenges, public scrutiny, and global attention, the unexpected resilience of the iPhone adds a touch of astonishment to an unfolding story that continues to captivate audiences worldwide. The aviation giant finds itself at a critical juncture, grappling with not only technical challenges but also the extraordinary tales emerging from the heart of the mid-air drama.

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