February 21, 2024

Boeing 737 MAX Accident Investigation: Missing Bolts discovered by NTSB

Title: Missing Bolts on Boeing 737 MAX 9 Aircraft Cause Safety Concerns

Date: [Date]

In a recent confirmation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), it has been revealed that four bolts securing a “door plug” on the fuselage of certain Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft were missing on an Alaska Airlines jet that experienced a midair decompression last month. This incident has raised concerns about Boeing’s quality control and manufacturing processes once again.

The missing bolts, previously removed by Boeing during the final assembly process to fix defects in the fuselage, were discovered through a metallurgic analysis of the recovered door plug and by examining photos from Boeing following the repair. The decompression incident occurred as the plane departed Portland International Airport, leading to rapid cabin decompression and the opening of the flight deck door.

It is important to note that airlines utilizing fewer seats on the aircraft, such as United Airlines and Alaska Airlines, have the option to use a lighter “plug” instead of an extra emergency exit behind the wing, which is mandatory on models with higher-density seating configurations.

Following the decompression incident, Alaska Airlines promptly grounded its entire fleet of 737 MAX 9 planes, while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also issued a grounding order for all MAX 9 jets with a door plug. The safety directive affects Alaska Airlines’ 65 MAX 9 aircraft and United Airlines’ 79 MAX 9 planes.

Inspections conducted by both airlines after the incident revealed loose bolts on numerous door plugs, intensifying concerns over Boeing’s safety practices. As of Monday, the FAA reported that approximately 94% of all 737 MAX 9 aircraft have been inspected and returned to service.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun openly acknowledged the company’s responsibility for causing the problem and expressed concerns about its potential impact on Boeing’s reputation and production ability. The FAA has pledged to increase oversight of Boeing, temporarily blocking the company from increasing its production rate.

This unfortunate episode serves as a reminder of the global grounding of the entire 737 MAX series in 2019 following two fatal crashes linked to a faulty flight control system. Boeing has already faced scrutiny regarding its safety practices and records, with additional manufacturing defects being discovered since the grounding.

As safety remains a paramount concern, it is crucial for Boeing to address these issues promptly to regain trust and ensure the well-being of passengers on their aircraft.