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The 737 Max is no longer Boeing's biggest problem, after yet another safety grounding – CTV News



Late last year it seemed Boeing was finally on the verge of moving past some of the biggest challenges in its history. U.S. regulators lifted the 20-month grounding of the 737 Max, and Covid-19 vaccine approvals raised hopes for back-to-normal demand for air travel and aircraft purchases.

But now Boeing faces perhaps a more serious long-term problem: the near collapse of the market for widebody passenger jets, which is crucial to the company’s sales.

And that problem only got worse Saturday with the grounding of 69 of its 777-model jets following the frightening engine failure on a United Airlines flight out of Denver on Saturday.

The failure rained aircraft parts onto a suburban neighbourhood. Fortunately no one on the ground was hurt and the plane was able to land with no injuries. But the vivid videos shot by passengers of the burning remains of the engine and news photos of holes in residents’ roofs and huge pieces of the plane in front yards certainly brought Boeing a lot of unneeded attention.

It’s the latest in a list of problems for various Boeing twin-aisle models — and the lucrative widebody jet business is important for the company, because that’s where it holds the clear lead over rival Airbus, which is first in single-aisle jet sales.

In fact, the latest 777 grounding may be the least serious of Boeing’s widebody problems, even if the headlines are the the most glaring.

“The Max was a challenge, but it was fixable,” said Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst with the Teal Group, referring to the process to fix the safety feature that caused two crashes that killed 346 people. Beyond that human toll, the grounding cost Boeing more than $20 billion.

But several other issues Boeing faces are not so easy to fix.

Part of the underlying, ongoing challenge in this realm is the pandemic. Twin-aisle planes most often fly international routes, and international travel will likely be severely hampered long after domestic travel rebounds as governments around the globe impose new Covid testing and quarantine restrictions on passengers taking cross-border flights.

And even before the pandemic and the 737 Max grounding, Boeing has lagged in the single-aisle plane market.

Rival Airbus has more sales in that part of the market — along with a shiny new long-range single-aisle plane for which Boeing does not have a competitor. And with airlines moving toward using single-aisle rather than widebody jets on more routes, Aboulafia said Boeing’s competitive disadvantage is a more serious long-term threat to the company than the Max grounding.

“If I would point to one issue of concern that would be the widebody market,” said Cai von Rumohr, aerospace analyst for Wall Street firm Cowen.

787 Dreamliner, 777X and other problems

Beyond the existing Max challenges and new 777 grounding, Boeing has already announced plans to shutter a 787 factory in Washington state in the coming months since it needs to cut back production due to weak demand. The company expects to build only five 787 Dreamliners and two 777s or 777Xs each month, less than half of the pre-pandemic production rate for those aircraft.

Von Rumohr said with the much slower production rate on those twin-aisle jets, Boeing will be much closer to breaking even than making money on widebodies. He said it will probably depend on sales of 777 freighters rather than passenger planes if they are going to turn a profit on those models. But even with strong demand for freighters, he expects Boeing to report its third straight year of losses in 2021.

The Covid-19 effect on international long-haul routes in particular “has shifted the anticipated replacement wave and overall demand for widebody airplanes,” Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun told investors last month.

The more serious challenge involves the 787 Dreamliner, of which Boeing halted deliveries late last year due to problems with its horizontal stabilizer. On Friday the FAA ordered inspections of more than 200 of the 787s due to torn decompression panels in cargo holds that the FAA said poses a risk to the aircraft if a fire were to break out in the holds.

Von Rumohr said it is uncertain whether or not customers who have ordered the 787 Dreamliners will be willing to take delivery of the planes once the problems are fixed.

Meanwhile completion of the 777X, the company’s newest passenger jet, is way overdue, partly because of problems with the development of its GE engines, and partly because of decreased demand for the planes. That aircraft also had a problem during safety tests in September 2019. Boeing now doesn’t plan to deliver the first 777X until late 2023.

The 777 grounding

The 777 grounding after this weekend affected 69 planes that were in service with engines built by Pratt & Whitney. (Another 59 of the company’s 777s with those engines were already out of service due to lack of demand.)

The Pratt & Whitney engines that failed on the United flight — and on a 747 freighter the same day in the Netherlands — are no longer used in newer versions of either of those jets. Boeing has already announced plans to discontinue the 747 sometime next year.

The exact cause of the two engine failures over the weekend has yet to be determined. Given how long the engines have been in use, it’s unlikely that it was a design issue but could instead be a manufacturing or a maintenance problem. “It could accelerate the retirement of some of these older 777s, but that’s not a major problem for Boeing,” said Aboulafia. The problem is more likely to be with the engine than the plane itself, von Rumohr said.

Delta announced in May that it would retire all 18 of its 777 jets, even though eight of the planes had only been in service for a relatively brief 10 years.

Aboulafia said these widespread problems don’t mean Boeing planes are not safe. But he said the issues do underscore a growing challenge for a company that once was recognized as a safety leader.

“I think Boeing has a serious issue in terms of technical execution related to new plane development,” Aboulafia said. “Other than the Max, it hasn’t been a safety issue. But you could see it becoming a safety perception problem if they’re not careful.”

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Ontario reports 172 new COVID-19 cases and 2 more deaths; 7-day average remains unchanged – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



Ontario reported fewer than 200 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths on Sunday, as the seven-day rolling average remains unchanged from yesterday.

Provincial health officials logged 172 new infections today, up from 170 on Saturday but down from 177 a week ago.

The province reported 192 cases on Friday, 185 on Thursday and 135 on Wednesday.

The seven-day rolling average now stands at 159, unchanged from Saturday but up slightly from a week ago when it was 153.

The province’s virus-related death toll is 9,313.

Another 144 people recovered from the virus yesterday, resulting in 1,450 active cases across the province.

Ontario labs processed 13,902 tests in the past 24 hours, down from 19,131 the previous day.

The drop in testing contributed to a slight day-over-day rise in the positivity rate to 1.1. per cent, compared to 0.8 per cent on Saturday, according to the Ministry of Health.

Another 152 lab-confirmed cases of variants of concern were identified in Ontario in the past 24 hours.

In the Greater Toronto Area, 48 cases of COVID-19 were logged in Toronto, 23 in Peel Region, nine in York Region, 11 in Durham and seven in Halton.

There are currently 127 people in intensive care units across the province due to the virus and 81 of those patients are breathing with the help of a ventilator.

To date, there have been more 549,300 lab-confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 538,565 recoveries since January 2020.

Over 8.5 million people are fully vaccinated against the virus after receiving two doses of approved vaccines.

More than 18.9 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Ontario since mid-December, with 103,812 shots into arms yesterday alone.

The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.

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EU regulator endorses use of Moderna's COVID-19 shot for children – Al Jazeera English



European Medicines Agency gives all clear for vaccine to be used in children aged between 12 and 17.

The European Union’s medicines regulator has recommended authorising Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged between 12 and 17, marking the first time the shot has been approved for people under 18.

In a decision on Friday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said research in more than 3,700 children of 12 to 17 years of age showed that the shot produced a comparable antibody response to that seen in 18- to 25-year-olds.

Use of the vaccine, Spikevax, will be the same in adolescents as in people over 18, the EMA said.

Formal approval by the European Commission – the EU’s executive arm – is needed to start rolling out the vaccine for teenagers. The body typically follows EMA recommendations.

Until now, the vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech has been the only option for use in children as young as 12 in North America and the EU.

Vaccinating children has been considered important for reaching herd immunity and in light of the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Most children with COVID-19 develop only mild symptoms or none. Yet children remain at risk of becoming seriously ill and can spread the virus.

‘Benefits outweigh the risks’

Moderna said in May that its vaccine was found to be safe and effective in teenagers. Hundreds of millions of doses of the shot have already have been administered to adults.

The EMA said common side effects in teenagers after vaccination with Spikevax were similar to those seen in older people.

But due to a smaller study size, the trial could not detect new uncommon side effects or estimate the risk of known ones such as myocarditis and pericarditis.

“The overall safety profile of Spikevax determined in adults was confirmed in the adolescent study; the CHMP (Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use) therefore considered that the benefits of Spikevax in children aged 12 to 17 outweigh the risks,” the EMA said.

Heart inflammation such as myocarditis and pericarditis has been listed by the EMA as a possible but rare side effect from use of mRNA vaccines such as Moderna’s and Pfizer’s in adults.

Spikevax is already being used in the EU for people over 18, and in the United States and Canada.

Moderna has also sought authorisation in the US and Canada for its use in adolescents.

But with global vaccine supplies still tight, much of the world still is struggling to immunise adults, let alone children.

Agencies including the World Health Organization have urged rich countries to donate their doses to the developing world – where fewer than 2 percent of people have been vaccinated – rather than moving on to inoculate their less vulnerable populations.

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Ontario reports 170 new COVID-19 cases, over 8.4 million fully vaccinated – CTV Toronto



Ontario is reporting a slight decrease in new COVID-19 cases on Saturday from the previous day.

Officials marked 170 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, with three additional deaths.

The province reported 192 new cases on Friday and 185 on Thursday.

The seven-day rolling average now stands at 159, compared to 151 a week ago.

Provincial labs processed more than 19,131 test specimens, generating a positivity rate of at least 0.8 per cent, according to the Ministry of Health.

The province’s COVID-19-related death toll stands at 9,311.

Another 150 people recovered from the disease yesterday, resulting in 1,424 active cases across the province.

Right now, there are 125 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 132 patients being treated in intensive care, according to the Ministry of Health.

The hospitalization data presented by the province has been skewed over the past several weeks, which may be explained by a delay in patient reporting.

Where are the new cases?

Officials are reporting 44 new cases in Toronto, 26 in Peel Region, 17 in Hamilton, 15 in the Region of Waterloo and 13 in Grey Bruce.

Update on COVID-19 variants of concern

The Ministry of Health is reporting 107 new cases of the Alpha variant Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to ​​145,255.

Officials reported 12 new cases of Delta variant, B.1.617.2 and the case total is now 3,897.

Four cases of the Beta variant, B.1.351 were also recorded. So far, there have been a total of 1,489 cases of the Beta variant reported in Ontario.

As for the Gamma variant, P.1, 10 new cases were recorded today. The total number of Gamma variants recorded in Ontario is now 5,140.

Vaccination update

The province said it administered 124,261 doses of COVID-19 vaccines Friday.

Throughout Ontario’s seven-month vaccination campaign, over 18.8 million needles have gone into arms.

As of Saturday, 8,480,761 people have received both doses and are considered to be fully vaccinated.


The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.

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