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4 Bolts Were Missing On Boeing Plane When Door Blew Out Mid-Air In US

Alaska Airlines reported finding "loose equipment" following its own preliminary inspections

New York - A preliminary investigation into the mid-flight door blowout of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 last month revealed that four bolts securing the panel were missing. The National Transportation Safety Board's initial report on the January 5 incident highlighted the absence of damage or deformation around the holes, indicating that the bolts preventing upward movement of the door plug were already missing before the incident.

Evidence gathered by the agency included written documents and photos showing that Boeing employees had removed four bolts during an inspection at the Renton plant in Washington State before delivering the aircraft in October. This operation, aimed at replacing five damaged rivets in the cabin, was followed by photos revealing that at least three of the bolts were not reinstalled.

The door plug, intended to block an unused exit due to the model having sufficient emergency exits, played a central role in the incident. On January 5, the panel flew off mid-flight as the Alaska Airlines MAX 9 departed from Portland, Oregon, heading to Ontario, California. Fortunately, the incident resulted in only minor injuries.

Alaska Airlines reported discovering 'loose equipment' during its preliminary inspections. United Airlines, which operates the largest fleet of 737 MAX 9s with 79 aircraft, found 'bolts needing additional tightening' in their checks.

Boeing has faced a series of issues in recent months, leading to a slowdown in deliveries. At a congressional hearing, the new Federal Aviation Administration chief, Michael Whitaker, emphasized the need for increased oversight of Boeing following the Alaska Airlines incident. Whitaker stated, 'There have been issues with Boeing in the past, and they don't seem to be getting resolved. So we feel like we need to have a heightened level of oversight to really get after that

Feb. 7, 2024 2:28 p.m. 1418

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