On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Boeing 737 plane malfunctioned during his return from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, leaving him stranded for several hours.
According to the State Department, the business jet experienced a critical malfunction from an oxygen leak that couldn’t be fixed. Blinken had already completed the first half of his trip from Davos to Zurich before the mechanical issue occurred, according to Mathew Miller, a department spokesperson.
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Blinken waited for a substitute jet while press members traveling with him were advised to take commercial flights because the new aircraft could not accommodate the media.
Blinken was still expected to return late Wednesday evening, several hours later than initially planned, according to Miller. He forwarded any further questions on the plane to the Air Force.
The Boeing C-40 is a modified Boeing 737 used for trips by the vice president, first lady, or secretary of state. During recent weeks, Boeing has been in the spotlight after the door plug of an Alaska Airlines flight detached midair, prompting the FAA to temporarily ground certain Boeing 737 Max 9 airplanes operated in the U.S. or by U.S. Airlines.
On Wednesday, the FAA stated they would closely monitor the work of Spirit AeroSystems, an aerospace company that makes and installs plug doors for Boeing 737 Max 9 airplanes.
The 737 Max suffered two crashes in 2018 and 2019, killing 346 passengers on board, resulting in a 20-month grounding of the jet while Boeing worked to fix the design flaw that caused the two crashes.
Boeing’s issues go beyond the crashes and the recent Alaska Air incident. In December, Boeing asked all airlines to inspect the 737 Max jets for potential loose bolts in the rudder system, which is vital to controlling the plane in the air.
Mechanical issues on U.S. Air Force passenger planes have been a recent concern on previous State Department trips. On Blinken’s trip to China last summer, his aides provided reporters with visas for an Azerbaijan refueling stop just in case any malfunctions should ground the aircraft.