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Boeing 737 Max: Foreign object debris found in stored undelivered jets



  • Boeing has found debris, likely left over from manufacturing, in several stored 737 Max aircraft, Leeham News reported.
  • The items, known as foreign-object debris, or FOD, were in the planes’ fuel tanks. Boeing will inspect all 400 finished, undelivered airplanes for FOD.
  • Boeing has been plagued by quality-control issues on other aircraft, and has been accused of prioritizing delivery deadlines over safety in manufacturing.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Boeing has discovered foreign objects in the fuel tanks of some undelivered 737 Max aircraft, according to a new report from Leeham News.

The items were considered foreign-object debris, or FOD, Leeham reported. FOD consists of items left over from manufacturing, such as tools, rags, or spare parts.

FOD is usually found during inspections before delivery to airline customers.

However, problems involving FOD have plagued Boeing at the North Charleston, South Carolina factory that produces the 787 Dreamliner wide-body aircraft. An April New York Times investigation found claims of shoddy production and poor quality control, and airlines complained to Boeing about quality issues in delivered aircraft in 2019.

Boeing has faced criticism that it rushed development of the 737 Max in order to catch up with its rival Airbus, which had unveiled an updated version of its successful A320 family of planes.

It has also been accused of prioritizing delivery deadlines over safety at various manufacturing sites, including the Renton, Washington, factory where the 737 Max is built, leading to missed problems and production mistakes, including FOD.

Boeing will inspect all 400 stored, undelivered 737 Max planes before they’re delivered to customers, Leeham reported. The inspections are reportedly unlikely to delay the plane’s return to service.

Boeing is already planning to perform extensive maintenance checks and tests on stored aircraft when the grounding ends. Business Insider first reported in September that the plane-maker was reaching out to retired technicians for help getting the planes ready for delivery quickly.

The FAA was notified about the FOD discovery, Leeham reported. The issue is unrelated to the technical problems that have grounded the 737 Max for nearly a year.

Boeing did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment.

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Automakers report big coronavirus-related sales dips. It’ll get worse.



  • Automakers reported declines in first-quarter US sales that were worsened by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
  • GM and FCA were down 7% and 10%, respectively. Toyota reported March sales that were down nearly 40%.
  • 2020 got off to a decent start in January and February, but shutdowns in the second half of March had an immediate negative impact.
  • The second quarter should be significantly worse: Vehicle production has been suspended in North America, consumers are reluctant to make big-ticket purchases, and dealerships are closed except for service.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Wednesday, automakers selling vehicles in the US reported first-quarter and in some cases, March sales. They weren’t terrible, given the worsening coronavirus pandemic, the impact of which largely hit the last two weeks of March.

But they were notable. In Detroit, General Motors reported a 7% decline and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles saw 10%; Ford reports on Thursday and is likely to endure a similar slide. 

March was the big problem, unsurprisingly. After starting the year on a pace that might have matched 2019, when about 17 million vehicles in total left dealers’ lots, widespread shutdowns to curtail the spread of COVID-19 reduced March sales to recession levels. 

Automakers have rolled out various incentives to make it possible for customers to continue buying vehicles. And although all North American manufacturing is now effectively suspended, automakers have a decent amount of inventory on hand — a few months worth, for popular and profitable pickup trucks and SUVs.

Big sales drops are coming in the second quarter

US Auto Sales Graphic

The recovery from the 2008-09 crisis.

Business Insider

With much of the industry switching from monthly to quarterly sales reporting, Q2 is going to be a matter of estimation for some big carmakers. For the companies that continue to report monthly, Toyota provided a preview, with the tally for March down almost 40%.

This has analysts predicting a sales pace for 2020 that resembles what happened during the financial crisis.

“Current tracking suggests an overall market in March 2020 in the 10 million to 12 million … range,” said Cox Automotive Senior Economist Charlie Chesbrough in an email.

“As the pandemic rolls across America, consumers’ interest in big ticket purchases like vehicles has all but disappeared. And for those folks still interested in purchasing, in many markets they can’t because of mandated dealership closings. April is likely to see further historic declines, driven largely by a lack of consumer confidence and substantial increases in unemployment.”

For context, a recessionary sales market in the US would typically drop sales to 13-15-million pace; 10-12 million is much closer to a catastrophe. 

The situation is essentially unprecedented. If the coronavirus weren’t shutting US economic activity, a moderate 2020 downturn would actually be manageable for many automakers, as the vehicles they are selling have historically high transaction prices — $37,736, according to Cox — and are profit drivers. FCA, for example, reported sales increases for Ram pickups. 

GM also reported year-over-year quarterly improvements for its Chevy and GMC pickups. So there could be some bright spots.

Best case, worst case, or something in between

car dealer

Consumers can’t get to dealerships.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The best-case scenario is that the pandemic is brought under control during the second quarter and automakers are able to both restart and salvage some sales, perhaps capitalizing on pent-up demand. But the worst case is that the crisis lasts through the summer. That would test the automakers such as GM, which has said in can remain profitable in a 10-11-million national sales pace.

If the reality is something in between, then a replay of the 2013-2015 period could be in order, as the market gradually recovers, as it might from a cyclical recession. 

“While the impact is dramatic, with no definitive end in sight, it’s not unprecedented,” Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book, said in an email.

“Industry veterans have seen steep downward trend lines before, and they’re always followed by upward lines once circumstances change. Automobiles are an integral part of the US and global way of life. The need for new automobiles isn’t changing, even if the near-term sales rate is going through a dramatic shift.”

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Coronavirus is the most challenging crisis since WWII, says U.N. chief



  • United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that the novel coronavirus was “the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War.”
  • Guterres said the world needed to coordinate on a two-pronged approach that both stopped the spread of the virus and addressed the dire economic fallout from the pandemic.
  • Economic relief must prioritize the world’s vulnerable populations, including women, low-wage workers, and people living in conflict zones, he said.
  • The world’s response must focus on “building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies,” Guterres said.
  • The U.N. released a 26-page report calling for coordinated health and economic measures to stop the spread and fallout of the coronavirus.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

United Nation Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that the novel coronavirus was “the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War,” and that aggressive medical and economic efforts were needed to thwart it.

“It is a combination, on one hand, of a disease that represents a threat to everybody in the world,” Guterres said at a press briefing Tuesday night. “And, second, because it has an economic impact that will bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past.”


As of Wednesday morning, there were more than 880,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and 44,000 deaths caused by the illness, according to Johns Hopkins University’s database.

On March 11, the World Health Organization had declared the coronavirus a pandemic. At the time, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that, “this is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector.”

In his opening remarks Tuesday, Guterres said the world’s response must be two-fold. First, he said, the world needed coordinated health response that included “testing, tracing, quarantine and treatment” and “measures to restrict movement and contact.”

He also called for “universal access to treatment and vaccines” when they were ready.

But Guterres also warned of a related economic disaster, noting that the International Monetary Fund anticipated a recession worse than the 2008 financial crisis.

An accompanying 26-page report released by the U.N. called on its member nations to conduct aggressive members to restrict transmission and a “a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive multilateral response amounting to at least 10 percent of global GDP.”

Guterres said that any economic relief must also address the world’s most vulnerable populations, including women, low-wage workers, and people living in conflict zones.

“Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges we face,” he said.

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Stocks plunge as coronavirus ravages US, hammers Asian manufacturing



  • Stocks dropped on Wednesday as investors worried about the novel coronavirus outbreak in the US and a sharp slowdown in Asian manufacturing.
  • President Donald Trump warned of a “very painful” two weeks to come as government scientists predicted 100,000 to 240,000 total domestic deaths from the pandemic.
  • Manufacturing surveys showed Japanese and South Korean factory activity slowed the most in roughly a decade in March.
  • “Global stocks got off to a soggy start in April as economic damage wrought by the coronavirus was laid bare,” one analyst said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Global stock markets tumbled on Wednesday as investors braced for a devastating US death toll from the novel coronavirus and reacted to disappointing Asian manufacturing data.

President Donald Trump warned the next two weeks would be “very painful” in a White House press briefing on Tuesday. US government scientists predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths from the pandemic — a fraction of the 2.2 million lives that could be lost without measures such as lockdowns and social distancing.

The US currently leads the world in confirmed cases with about 190,000 to date. It has suffered more than 4,000 deaths from the disease.

Read more: Bank of America examined the stock market during every recession since 1929 and concluded the recent meltdown is not over. Here’s its trading strategy for a deeper crash.

Purchasing Managers’ Index surveys published on Wednesday suggested South Korean factory activity fell the most in 11 years in March, and Japanese manufacturing slowed the most in nine years. Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and other Asian countries also registered sharp declines.

“Global stocks got off to a soggy start in April as economic damage wrought by the coronavirus was laid bare,” Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for, said in a morning note. “Donald Trump reflected the mood.”

Read more: 5 corporate-debt experts break down how the coronavirus crisis is ravaging cash-strapped firms — and share what they’re buying to avoid risky ‘zombie’ companies

Here’s the market roundup as of 9:40 a.m. in London (4:40 a.m. ET):

  • European equities tumbled, with Germany’s DAX down 3.7%, Britain’s FTSE 100 down 4.3%, and the Euro Stoxx 50 down 3.7%.
  • Asian indexes slumped, with China’s Shanghai Composite down 0.6%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng down 2.5%, and Japan’s Nikkei down 4.5%.
  • US stocks are set to open lower, with futures underlying the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq down between 3% and 3.5%.
  • Oil prices slid, with West Texas Intermediate down 1.4% at $20.20, and Brent crude down 5.3% at about $25.
  • The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield dropped below 0.63%.
  • Gold rose 0.6% to $1,606.
  • Bitcoin fell about 3% to around $6,300.
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