Following months of investigations, US aviation officials now believe that a bird strike may have caused the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max crash that occurred back in March. According a “source” that spoke with the Wall Street Journal, birds – not Boeing’s anti-stall system – ultimately led to the plane’s rapid descent.
And as you could imagine, Boeing shares initially soared this morning on the news, climbing 2.26% at their highest point before retracing their A.M. gains. As of midday, BA stock is still up roughly 1.00%, mimicking the rest of the general market which also enjoyed a nice boost to start the trading session.
In addition to newfound Boeing optimism, investors piled-in to the tech sector, where chipmakers and semiconductor manufacturers saw the biggest spikes. It was a surprising reaction to say the least, as the market-wide lift came just hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country would be embarking on a “new Long March,” signaling a potentially extended trade war with the United States.
But Wall Street and retail investors don’t seem to care about that in the slightest. All they know is that the tech sector deserves a second look after the recent dip, and more importantly, Boeing could be innocent.
Bad sensor data, the real culprit according to crash investigators, activated the MCAS (Boeing’s anti-stall system) prematurely, forcing the noses down of both planes that crashed. The source of that bad data was initially thought to stem from Boeing’s instruments installed on the planes, putting the blame squarely on Boeing for the malfunction.
Now, however, according to the Wall Street Journal’s source, new evidence (that has yet to be released) suggests the contrary for the crash in March – that an external force, most likely birds, struck the plane, feeding the MCAS incorrect sensor data, prompting it to enter an anti-stall protocol that the pilots could not disable.
And so, investors got excited that Boeing could be let “off the hook” for at least one of the two crashes – the other occurring in Indonesia in October of last year.
But before you go out and snap-up a few BA shares for yourself, keep in mind that even if this is true, Boeing still has a long way to go before it repairs its reputation.
If that’s even possible at this point.
Don’t forget that Boeing failed to inform pilots of the new anti-stall system until AFTER a 737 Max went down in Indonesia. Even worse, pilots were reporting issues with the plane en masse, and after two deadly accidents that claimed the lives of 346 passengers, Boeing senior leadership still insisted that the plane was safe.
Even if we assume that bird strikes did in fact cause both 737 Max crashes, that’s no excuse for the way that Boeing’s CEO behaved in the months that followed.
The poor handling of safety precautions by the company, as well as their total disregard for alerting pilots – you know, the ones who actually fly the planes – has uncovered a huge culture crisis at Boeing. Even if they’re able to get their financials back on track, the company may simply be rotten to the core, with the folks in charge at the root of it all.
If Boeing wants to regain the trust of their shareholders, heads will have to start rolling in the boardroom, otherwise investors can expect to just get more of the same in the future.
And as far as I’m concerned, that’s simply not good enough in an industry where safety is of the utmost importance.