Concerns Over Recent Plane Issues Leave Some Travelers Reluctant to Fly with Boeing

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Concerns Over Recent Plane Issues Leave Some Travelers Reluctant to Fly with Boeing

(NEXSTAR) — Some airline passengers say they’re apprehensive about traveling in Boeing jetliners following a series of flight problems in the past three months. But should you be worried about flying?

Travelers have voiced their safety concerns in news interviews and on social media platforms like TikTok, with several users posting videos using the caption, “If it’s Boeing, I’m not going.”

The American plane maker has been under intense pressure since early January, when a panel blew off a brand-new Alaska Airlines 737 Max midflight over Oregon.

This spotlighted a torrent of manufacturing issues that have piled up for Boeing over the years — including two devastating crashes that also involved Max jets (one in Indonesia in 2018 and the other in Ethiopia the following year).

Fliers like Leila Amineddoleh, a lawyer residing in New Jersey, claim they’ve gone as far as re-booking flights to avoid Boeing aircraft.

“I just can’t step on that plane,” Amineddoleh told NBC News, citing quality control incidents. “Even if the chance of getting hurt on a Boeing flight, even with all these incidents, is slim.”

This file photo shows a large Boeing 737 MAX 9 model outside its production plant in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson/File)

Popular TikToker @gracietravels expressed the same frustration in a video that’s been viewed more than 1.4 million times on the app.

“I realized that my plane next week was on a Boeing 737-9 Max. So, I immediately — and I mean immediately — canceled this and changed it to another flight because I will make sure I will never fly on another Boeing again,” she said in the March 15 video.

Not everyone agreed with taking this approach, however. Many called it an “over reaction” and “fear mongering,” while others pointed out that air travel is still safer than flying.

“People don’t know that if you drive to the airport, you already survived the most dangerous part of air travel,” one user wrote.

How safe is flying?

The National Safety Council estimates that Americans have a 1-in-93 chance of dying in a motor-vehicle crash, while deaths on airplanes are too rare to calculate the odds. Figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation tell a similar story.

“This is the safest form of transportation ever created, whereas every day on the nation’s roads about a 737 full of people dies,” Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst and consultant, told The Associated Press.

While it’s been 15 years since the last deadly crash involving a U.S. airliner, concerns persist. A panel of experts reported in November that a shortage of air traffic controllers, outdated plane-tracking technology and other issues presented a growing threat to safety in the sky.

As for Boeing, a recent audit by the Federal Aviation Administration revealed “multiple instances” of the company and its key supplier failing to ensure manufacturing met quality standards.

When asked for comment about the audit, a Boeing spokesperson referred to a statement in which CEO David Calhoun, who plans to retire later this year, said the company now has a “clear picture of what needs to be done” and is “totally committed to meeting this challenge.”

The U.S. Justice Department has also launched a criminal investigation into whether the panel blowout on the Alaska Airlines plane violated terms of a 2021 settlement, which allowed Boeing to avoid prosecution for allegedly misleading regulators during the certification of the 737 Max.

This image taken Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, and released by the National Transportation Safety Board, shows a section of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 that is missing panel on a Boeing 737-9 MAX in Portland, Ore. (NTSB via AP, file)

Regulators had grounded some 737 Max jets for about three weeks following the blowout, but many of the affected planes are back in service.

It’s worth noting that Boeing isn’t to blame for every single flight issue that’s made headlines. Investigations into some of the incidents suggest maintenance lapses, and many near misses are attributed to errors by pilots or air traffic controllers.

For instance, a United Boeing 737 landing in Oregon earlier this month was found to have a piece of aluminum skin missing. Unlike the Alaska Airlines jet involved in the panel blowout, the United aircraft was 26 years old. Maintenance falls under the responsibility of the airline.

Aviation experts say the most concerning incidents involve issues with flight controls, engines and structural integrity. Other things such as cracked windshields and planes clipping each other at the airport rarely pose a safety threat.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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