In a Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, a panel broke out of the fuselage during flight. Now it turns out that serious faults were found during inspection of such grounded machines. Some elements were supposed to be loose. This raises questions about how carefully this aviation bestseller is assembled.
Control tests are ongoing, but serious irregularities have already been detected. Alaska Airlines and United Airlines say loose structural components have been found on the grounded Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes. United discovered defects in about ten machines. “Since we began initial inspections on Saturday, we have found items that may be related to problems with the installation of the door cap. These include screws that needed to be tightened,” reads an excerpt from United Airlines’ statement. It was the door cap that fell off the fuselage of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 that was flying from Portland to California on Friday. A fragment of the plane, which had 171 passengers and six crew members on board, broke off when the plane was at an altitude of almost 5,000 meters. The pilots managed to return to the Portland airport. Nothing happened to anyone.
– I thought we were going to fall. I wrote to my mother that there was an explosion and I didn’t know if I would survive. I wrote that I loved her. It was a terrifying and traumatic experience. I’m glad everything ended well. The services must conduct a thorough investigation to understand what happened and prevent it from happening again, says Stephanie King, a passenger on the plane.
The US National Transportation Safety Board is currently unable to determine whether the fuselage fragment that detached from the plane was properly attached. – The tests carried out so far have shown that the door has moved upwards. All 12 arresters became disconnected, which led to the detachment of a fragment of the fuselage. Both guides are broken. We’re still looking for the four screws that were supposed to stop the vertical movement of this panel. For now, we don’t know if they were screwed down at all, says Clint Crookshanks from the US National Transportation Safety Board.
More problems for the company
A teacher from Portland noticed a fragment of the fuselage in his garden. Another Oregon resident found a phone belonging to an Alaska Airlines passenger. The device survived a fall from five kilometers. – The phone was not locked. He had airplane mode on and a message confirming baggage check-in for flight 1282, reveals Sean Bates, a resident of Oregon.
The plane from which a piece of the fuselage fell off was prohibited from performing long flights over water. During the last three flights, the cabin pressurization system light came on in the cockpit. – We managed to determine, based on data from the machine, that the systems worked properly in all cases, i.e. on December 7, January 3 and January 4. The first of two emergency systems was activated. At this time, there is no reason to believe that the warning lights were related to a panel detaching from the fuselage, which led to sudden decompression, says Jennifer Homendy, head of the US National Transportation Safety Board.
The vast majority of Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft are operated by American airlines. Boeing shares fell 8 percent on Monday. “Carriers are conducting the required inspections. We remain in close contact with them and will help resolve any issues. We make every effort to ensure that each Boeing aircraft meets design specifications and the highest safety and quality standards,” the company assures. These are not the first problems Boeing has faced. The company’s reputation was damaged by two disasters that occurred in 2018 and 2019. Two Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes crashed off the coast of Indonesia and Ethiopia. 346 people died. Both accidents were caused by faulty software.
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Main photo source: Reuters