Seattle — Despite a series of air disaster involving Boeing jets, industry officials are confident the huge aircraft manufacturer will emerge with no permanent damage to its reputation.

Airline executives, pilots, regulatory agencies, and even passenger associations agree that Boeing Co. planes have excellent safety reputations and that the current string of disaster does not indicate a problem in quality control.

They note that Boeing has more planes in the air than any other manufacturer, increasing the odds that a Boeing jet could be involved in an accident.

“We haven’t seen anything that would indicate a pattern of problems with Boeing aircraft,’ said John Mazor, spokesman for the Airline Pilots Association in Washington. “The accidents that have occurred do not appear to have been related.”

Joe Hopkins, a spokesman for United Air Lines, the world’s largest airline outside the Soviet Union and Boeing’s biggest customer, said “there is no indication” the air travelers are backing away from Boeing aircraft. McDonnell Douglas’ reputation and sales nosedived in 1979 when a series of crashes resulted in the FAA grounding the DC10 in the United States for 38 days. There is no indication the FAA is considering grounding Boeing aircraft.

The massive design and manufacturing system that Boeing developed under one corporate roof began nearly 70 years ago in a humble mechanics shop in Seattle.

The company boomed when the demand for military planes rose during World War I. World War II brought on another expansive burst and the Korean War gave the company the edge it needed to usher in the transoceanic commercial jet age.

Boeing’s 707 are generally credited with opening up the world to commercial jet travel. Boeing planes now account for 57 percent of the world’s airline fleet. Its nearest competitor, McDonnell Douglas, has a 27 percent slice.

There are 4,200 Boeing planes currently in service. For the year ending in June, Boeing planes carried 421.6 million people worldwide.

Boeing officials refer to the crashes this summer as an “unfortunate chain of circumstances” of unrelated accidents.

“We obviously feel badly about these accidents,” said Boeing spokesman John Wheeler, “and we are going to cooperate with other agencies in getting to the root causes. But we don’t see any connection between them.”

The series of disasters aboard Boeing airliners this year began with the Feb. 19 crash of an Iberia 727 in Spain that killed 148 people. That was followed a few months later by the mysterious crash of an Air India. A terrorist’s bomb is believed to be the cause.

Then came the worst single plane disaster in aviation history, the crash of a Japan Air Lines 747 into a mountainside Aug. 12, killing 520 of the 524 people aboard. The tail section broke apart before the crash, and Japanese airlines are now inspecting the tail sections of all 747s.

A Boeing 737200 Thursday caught fire from an explosion in its port engine. It quickly flared into a death pyre for 54 of the 137 passengers headed from Manchester, England to a holiday on the Greek islands.

Investigators said they believe the explosion occurred in a compression chamber of the Pratt & Whitney engine, but the reason is unknown. The airline is making American made Boeing 737 engines.

Boeing stock dropped in early trading Thursday after the news of that morning’s tragedy. But the stock recovered later in the day.

Daniel Smith, a Dallas spokesman for the 100,000member International Airline Passengers Association based in Rotterdam, said a 1984 survey conducted by the group showed 75 percent ranked the Boeing 747 jumbo jet first for safety and comfort on long-haul trips.

“It would be flying in the face of years of excellent history,” he said, to criticize Boeing products at this point.

“Between now and… when some definitive information will come forth on the causes of these accidents, the public has to sit around and wring its hands,” Smith said.

Like Boeing executives and officials at other airlines, United’s spokesman Hopkins sees little similarity in the rash of accidents between Boeing aircraft and the streak of fatal crashes that hurt the reputation of the DC10.

Article extracted from this publication >>  August 30, 1985