God Continues To Deliver Judgment On Airline Industry

In this aerial view from a drone, people walk past a home with a hole in the roof from falling debris from an airplane engine on February 20, 2021 in Broomfield, Colorado. An engine on the Boeing 777 exploded after takeoff from Denver prompting the flight to return to Denver International Airport where it landed safely.
In this aerial view from a drone, people walk past a home with a hole in the roof from falling debris from an airplane engine on February 20, 2021 in Broomfield, Colorado. An engine on the Boeing 777 exploded after takeoff from Denver prompting the flight to return to Denver International Airport where it landed safely.
Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images (Getty Images)
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There is no god, but it does make for a convenient explanation why Boeing is asking for airlines to ground some Boeing 777 jets after a chunks of an engine fell in someone’s yard. All that and more in The Morning Shift for Feburary 22, 2021.

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1st Gear: 777 Not Entirely Grounded, Not Quite

This all started the other day when a Boeing 777 began shedding some weight over Denver, as we reported over the weekend:

United Flight 328 suffered a little bit of a problem just after it took off from Denver International Airport yesterday: The right-side engine failed, leaving nothing but a glowing core on the plane while pieces of debris rained down on yards, soccer fields and homes in the Denver area.

[...]

The plane was en route to Honolulu. Thankfully, the engine failure happened just after takeoff, which meant the plane was able to return to the Denver airport, where it landed safely. Travis Loock, a passenger on the plane, told CNN that it was only about 20 minutes into the flight, just at the plane reached 10,000 feet. Right now, no one has been reported injured, but some folks are left dealing with holes in their roof after the debris fell through.

The industry fallout has been a grounding in Japan and a not-quite-grounding in the United States, as Reuters reports:

Boeing Co urged airlines to suspend the use of 777 jets with the same type of engine that shed debris over Denver at the weekend after U.S. regulators announced extra inspections and Japan suspended their use while considering further action.

[...]

The 777-200s and 777-300s affected are older and less fuel efficient than newer models and are currently being flown by just five airlines - United, Japan Airlines Co Ltd (JAL), ANA Holdings Inc, Asiana Airlines Inc and Korean Air Lines Co Ltd. Most of them are phasing them out of their fleets.

[...]

Japan’s transport ministry ordered JAL and ANA Holdings to suspend their use while it considered whether to take additional measures, acting before the FAA.

An official at South Korea’s transport ministry said it was waiting for formal action by the FAA before giving a directive to its airlines. The U.S. agency said it would soon issue an emergency airworthiness directive.

Would now be a good time to just drastically reduce the amount of air travel out of this country and drastically increase the cost of tickets? I don’t know what else it will take to get people to stop flying all the time.

2nd Gear: Virginia Dealers Support Switching To California Rules

California’s fight over regulating car emissions has won over another state. This time, Virginia’s auto dealers are backing a plan to join California rules, as Automotive News reports:

The Virginia Automobile Dealers Association is supporting state legislation that would impose California’s vehicle emissions standards and zero-emission vehicle mandates after initially opposing a similar measure last year and asking lawmakers to delay action on emissions rules until 2022.

Virginia’s House Bill 1965 — passed by the Senate last week and expected to be signed by Gov. Ralph Northam — adopts the more stringent auto pollution rules set by the California Air Resources Board and requires automakers to provide increasing percentages of ZEVs to their franchised dealers starting with the 2025 model year.

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Clearly, Virginia dealers didn’t care about these rules when it was just the environment at stake. Now that GM and Ford are debuting mass-market electric cars, though, they seem all-in. We will not stop climate change by appealing to hearts and minds alone.

3rd Gear: Dealers Seem Jazzed About The Mini Electric

Speaking of, Automotive News has a story about how stoked Mini dealers seem over the somewhat half-assed Mini Cooper SE.  The EV Mini has around 110 miles of range in an age of long-distance Teslas, and it’s not exactly the best-selling electric car on the market. Still, dealers seem amped and expect to double sales, per AN:

“It’s been a great success for us. There have been high-end luxury products and vehicles just below those, but we wanted to make sure there was a nicely equipped, fun-to-drive EV that was accessible to customers. We were going for the democratization of the EV,” [Mini of the Americas Vice President Mike Peyton] told Automotive News.

Last year, the Mini Electric was available on a reservation-only status, and that might have dinged sales. At the Mini make meeting during this month’s virtual NADA Show, dealers said they could sell more Mini Electrics to customers who want to test drive before they order.

This year, the Mini plant in Oxford, England, is scheduled to build enough to enable dealers to have at least one in stock. Peyton believes Mini’s 116 U.S. dealers can double sales of the electric from 1,200 units in 2020 to about 2,400 this year and go even higher next year. “Mini E was about 4 percent of our sales last year. It will be about 8 percent this year. We do think there’s definitely some potential to sell some from stock and convince even more people that it is a great product,” Peyton said.

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Doubling sales is easy when you’re going from 1,200 to 2,400 units, but why get lost in the details?

4th Gear: Michigan Has Been Investigating Over 1,000 Cases Of Dodge Charger Theft

Two more Chargers were stolen out of a dealership lot outside of Detroit this weekend, as the local Saline Post reports:

The Saline Police Department is investigating the theft of two vehicles from LaFontaine Chrysler on the city’s west side.

On Feb. 2, two 2021 Dodge Charger Scat Pack models were stolen from the dealership. Saline Deputy Police Chief Marlene Radzik said it’s unknown how the thieves were able to start the vehicles.

Radzik said more than 1,000 Dodge Chargers have been stolen in Southeast Michigan in the last year

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Automotive News declared, simply, “Dodge Charger too hot in Detroit area.” I, for one, am proud of Michigan for leading this nation in Charger thefts.

5th Gear: Canada Travel Ban Over COVID Will Hit A Year

We are getting ready to mark a first anniversary here in the United States: We’ve banned travel to Canada because of COVID for a whole year! What a momentous occasion, as Reuters reports:

U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least March 21, the one-year anniversary of the restrictions to address COVID-19 transmission concerns, the U.S. government said Friday.

The new 30-day extension is the first announced under President Joe Biden and comes as the White House has been holding meetings about potentially tightening requirements for crossing at U.S. land borders in North America, officials said.

Canada has shown little interest in lifting the restrictions and recently imposed new COVID-19 testing requirements for some Canadians returning by land crossings.

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Honestly, keep us out.

Reverse: The Result Was Immediately Contested, NASCAR Is A Soap Opera At Heart

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Neutral: Will Cheap Air Travel Come To An End?

I often spend a few idle minutes wondering what America would look like if air travel went back to being ridiculously expensive and we all just drove to Wally World instead of flying to Hawaii. What do you think that would take, and what do you think it would do to your local busted up theme park?

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

DISCUSSION

“I often spend a few idle minutes wondering what America would look like if air travel went back to being ridiculously expensive and we all just drove to Wally World instead of flying to Hawaii.” 

So you want a crap ton of people to lose their good jobs? Strange take. Uggh.

Some days, I wonder if there is some sort of Bizarro-World Sinclair Media mandate that orders the writers here to hate on their readership (and throw in a completely out-of-left-field religion jab as well.) Gotta get them clicks, I guess.

Today’s Morning Shift entry is just...confounding.