Alaska and United Airlines Report Loose Parts in Boeing 737 Max 9 Door Panels

PBS News Hour:

Federal investigators say a door panel slid up before flying off an Alaska Airlines jetliner last week, and they are looking at whether four bolts that were supposed to help hold the panel in place might have been missing when the plane took off. The comments Monday from the National Transportation Safety Board came shortly after Alaska and United Airlines reported separately that they found loose parts in the panels — or door plugs — of some other Boeing 737 Max 9 jets.

“Since we began preliminary inspections on Saturday, we have found instances that appear to relate to installation issues in the door plug — for example, bolts that needed additional tightening,” Chicago-based United said.

Alaska said that as it began examining its Max 9s, “Initial reports from our technicians indicate some loose hardware was visible on some aircraft.”

This tidbit seems nutty to me:

The jet involved in Friday’s blowout is brand-new, having been put in service in November. After a cabin-pressurization system warning light came on during three flights, the airline stopped flying it over the Pacific to Hawaii. Some aviation experts questioned why Alaska continued using the plane on overland routes until it figured out what was causing the pressurization warnings.

Homendy said Monday, however, that NTSB has seen no evidence to link the warnings with the blowout of the door plug.

There may be no evidence yet, but what are the odds that a door plug that blew off a brand-new jet mid-flight — in a fleet of planes they’ve now discovered have loose bolts holding those doors in place — wasn’t to blame for the cabin-pressurization warnings? And, even if it’s true that the pressurization warnings were unrelated to last week’s incident, that’s even worse for Boeing — that would mean they have a problem with these door plugs and an as-yet undetermined other problem. I’m surprised that Boeing’s stock is only down ~8 percent.

Tuesday, 9 January 2024