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Panel missing from Boeing plane discovered post-flight.

Photo-REUTERS

Following a routine post-flight inspection, a missing panel was discovered on a Boeing 737-800 that had recently landed at Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in southern Oregon after a flight from San Francisco. This incident marks the latest in a series of concerning occurrences involving aircraft manufactured by Boeing. The flight, operated by United Airlines as Flight 433, departed from San Francisco and safely landed at Medford's airport without any reported incidents. Airport officials, including director Amber Judd, confirmed that the missing external panel was detected during the post-flight inspection. Immediate measures were taken to pause airport operations and conduct thorough checks of the runway and airfield for any debris, although none was found.

According to Amber Judd, it is believed that the missing panel was noticed by either the United ground crew or pilots conducting routine inspections before the aircraft's next flight. A spokesperson for United Airlines confirmed that the flight had 139 passengers and six crew members on board and emphasized that no emergency was declared during the flight. The discovery of the missing panel occurred after the aircraft had been parked at the gate. United Airlines assured that a comprehensive examination of the plane would be conducted, and all necessary repairs would be carried out before it returns to service. Additionally, an investigation will be launched to ascertain the circumstances leading to the damage.

The missing panel was located on the underside of the aircraft, adjacent to the landing gear and where the wing meets the body, as disclosed by United Airlines. According to records from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Boeing 737-800, designated as a 737-824, made its maiden flight in April 1998 and was delivered to Continental Airlines in December of the same year. Since November 30, 2011, United Airlines has operated the aircraft. Boeing refrained from making any comments directly, deferring inquiries to United Airlines regarding their fleet and operations.

This incident adds to a string of recent mishaps involving Boeing aircraft. In a particularly notable occurrence in January, a panel covering an emergency door space dislodged from a Boeing Max 9 jet mid-flight, prompting an emergency landing of an Alaska Airlines flight departing from Portland. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported, but the incident raised significant safety concerns. Subsequently, the missing door plug was discovered in the backyard of a high school physics teacher in southwest Portland, prompting a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice.

In another incident on March 6, fumes detected in the cabin of a Boeing 737-800 Alaska Airlines flight bound for Phoenix forced pilots to return to Portland airport. Passengers and crew noticed the fumes, and although seven individuals requested medical evaluations, no one required hospitalization. These incidents highlight the importance of rigorous safety protocols and thorough inspections to ensure the well-being of passengers and the safe operation of aircraft.

March 16, 2024 4:33 p.m. 12776

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