Was There a Breakdown in Boeing’s Certification Process?

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BoeingBoeing’s (NYSE:BA) strong fourth-quarter and full-year earnings report, released on Wednesday, was not enough to curb year-to-date losses. Shares are still off over 3 percent since the beginning of January as the company faces an international investigation regarding the lithium-ion batteries on board its flagship 787 aircraft.

It’s old-hat by now, but the investigation remains a tremendous liability for the company. Boeing has had orders for nearly 850 Dreamliners, only 49 of which have been delivered so far, and the investigation threatens to delay production. Boeing can’t transport new aircraft away from its final assembly facility until the investigation is complete and the Federal Aviation Administration lifts the grounding policy, and it’s unclear how long that will take. It’s also unclear whether Boeing will have to compensate carriers like United Air Lines (NYSE:UAL), which has six of the aircraft, for costs associated with the grounding.

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Investigators have scoured not just the aircraft itself but parts suppliers and component makers in an attempt to identify what caused a series of electrical malfunctions. The ordeal has also raised many questions and shed some light on the certification process that led to the aircraft being deemed safe to fly…

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