Boeing’s banner run put at risk by renewed questions about safety of its profit-driving 737 Max 8 jet

Thomas Heath Local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and companies in the Washington metropolitan area Aaron Gregg Reporter covering the defense industry and government contractors. March 11 at 11:37 AM

Even after the Lion Air crash of its state-of-the-art Max 8 in October, Boeing was predicting another banner year in 2019. Orders of its 737 Max 8 aircraft were up. It had notched three major Pentagon contracts. And its stock was flying sky high.

But now, after another of the aviation giant’s jets crashed, this time in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board, it’s facing renewed questions about its safety and reliability as investors knocked back its share price more than 12 percent in early trading Monday.

Boeing, which last year carried the Dow Jones industrial average to record highs, dragged it down on Monday morning, as the blue-chip measure opened in the red.

China, Indonesia and Ethiopia have grounded the 737 Max 8, which was involved in both crashes, and other carriers have signaled they may follow suit.

In a statement Monday, Boeing said no new safety guidance is planned as of now: ” The investigation is in its early stages, but at this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance.”

The Chicago-based U.S. aerospace giant, with more than $100 billion in revenue and 153,000 employees, is one of the most heavily weighted of the Dow’s 30 components. It has been one of the drivers of the 10-year-old bull market; its stock had been up more than 30 percent, year to date, as of Friday’s close.

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