Boeing 737 MAX 9 incident
In a recent development concerning aviation safety, a preliminary investigation into a mid-air door blowout incident involving a Boeing 737 MAX 9 Alaska Airlines jet has uncovered crucial details. The National Transportation Safety Board’s initial report highlights the discovery that four bolts securing a door panel were missing, leading to the panel flying off mid-flight during a journey from Portland, Oregon to Ontario, California on January 5.
These missing bolts were crucial in securing a door plug that was used to block an exit not intended for use, as the aircraft already had sufficient emergency exits in its configuration. The investigation found that Boeing employees had removed these bolts during an inspection at the Renton plant in Washington State prior to the aircraft’s delivery last October. While the operation was initially intended to replace damaged rivets, it was noted that at least three of the bolts were not reinstalled after the rivet replacement.
Although the incident resulted in only minor injuries, it has raised concerns about the safety of Boeing aircraft. Alaska Airlines reported finding loose equipment during preliminary inspections, while United Airlines, which owns a significant fleet of 737 MAX 9s, identified bolts requiring additional tightening during checks.
In response to these safety issues, the new Federal Aviation Administration chief, Michael Whitaker, emphasized the need for heightened oversight of Boeing. Speaking at a congressional hearing, Whitaker acknowledged past issues with Boeing aircraft and emphasized the necessity of resolving them promptly to ensure passenger safety.
The incident underscores the importance of rigorous inspection protocols and maintenance procedures in the aviation industry. As investigations continue and measures are implemented to address the root causes of the incident, aviation authorities and industry stakeholders are focused on ensuring the continued safety and reliability of air travel.