Earlier this year, passengers on board an Alaska Airlines flight from Oregon to California had the fright of their lives when a "door plug" was ripped out of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, forcing pilots to return to the airport.

As reporting from the Wall Street Journal has since revealed, workers had already flagged damaged rivets on the jet's fuselage last year, triggering chaos and delays.

Adding to the corporate complexity, the fuselages for the 737 MAX 9 were assembled by a Kansas-based supplier called Spirit AeroSystems, placing it at the center of Boeing's ongoing troubles.

And now, Boeing has announced that it's buying the supplier, bringing production back in-house after almost 20 years of outsourcing it, the New York Times reports, an eyebrow-raising twist in the embattled aerospace giant's attempts to save face.

Boeing has been reeling from a series of controversies, including several deadly crashes, alarming whistleblower reports and several subsequent whistleblower deaths, terrifying videos of flames shooting from jets, and a Justice Department criminal investigation that just might end in a plea deal.

And that's not to mention Boeing's plagued Starliner spacecraft, whose crew is currently "not stranded" indefinitely on board the International Space Station following the discovery of several gas leaks.

Spirit actually started at Boeing; in 2005, Boeing sold its factory in Wichita, Kansas, and spun off the local division to an investment firm, which led to its founding.

By buying its plagued supplier, Boeing is hoping to gain control over the situation and figuratively stem the bleeding.

"By once again combining our companies, we can fully align our commercial production systems, including our Safety and Quality Management Systems, and our workforce to the same priorities, incentives and outcomes — centered on safety and quality," Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun wrote in a Monday statement.

The deal, which was widely expected to be worth billions of dollars, per the NYT, is "expected to close mid-2025" and "Boeing and Spirit will remain independent companies" as Boeing works to "secure the necessary regulatory approvals," according to Calhoun.

It's a major turning point for the aerospace giant after almost 20 years of relying on independent suppliers to cut costs and boost profits, a commitment that has seemingly come at the cost of safety.

Case in point is that pesky door plug, which triggered a "violent explosive decompression event" after being ripped out of a fuselage in January. It's been linked to Boeing trying to cram more passengers into the cabin by reshuffling the seat configuration.

Meanwhile, the pressure on Boeing is steadily rising. Over the weekend, the Justice Department announced that it's willing to allow Boeing to skip a criminal trial if it agrees to plead guilty to a fraud case connected to the two fatal 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 that led to the deaths of 346 people.

Boeing is in full damage control mode, with executives vowing that the situation has already improved and fewer defects are being found, as the NYT reports.

But whether its acquisition of Spirit AeroSystems will help improve safety at the company — or bring even more scrutiny to its operations — remains to be seen.

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