The Boeing jet lost its screws before it exploded mid-flight

The Boeing jet lost its screws before it exploded mid-flight

The screws that helped attach a panel to the frame of the Boeing 737 Max 9 were missing before The plate exploded Alaska Airlines plane last month, according to crash investigators.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday in a preliminary report on the Jan. 5 incident that the lack of specific damage to the plane indicates that all four rivets were missing before the plane took off from Portland, Oregon.

Without the screws, there was nothing to prevent the panel from sliding up and separating from the “stop pads” that attached it to the airframe.

Alaska Airlines pilots had to make a harrowing emergency landing with a hole in the side of the plane, but no serious injuries were reported.

The NTSB report included a photo from Boeing, which worked on the panel called the door stop, that showed three of the four screws that prevent the panel from moving upwards were missing. The fourth bolt location is obscured by insulation.

The initial report said the plane arrived at Boeing’s factory near Seattle with five damaged bolts near the door seal, which were installed by supplier Spirit AeroSystems. The spirit crew replaced the bolts, which required removing the four screws and opening the plug.

The report did not say who removed the screws. She said a text message between Boeing employees who finished work on the plane after the rivet process included a photo showing the plug with the screws missing.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., was upset by Boeing’s lack of documentation about who did what and when the screws disappeared.

“They didn’t write any of this,” she said in an interview. “It’s largely Boeing’s responsibility, certainly, but I’m concerned that we may have multiple points of failure here.”

The NTSB has not announced a probable cause for the accident, which will come at the end of an investigation that could last a year or more.

“Whatever final results are reached, Boeing is responsible for what happened,” CEO David Calhoun said in a statement. “An event like this should not happen on a plane leaving our factory. We simply have to do what is best for our customers and their passengers.”

Investigators said they are still trying to determine who allowed the Boeing crew to open and reinstall the door plug.

Safety experts said the accident could have been catastrophic if the Alaska plane had reached cruising altitude. The pressure in the cabin after the explosion would have been much stronger, and passengers and flight attendants may have been walking around rather than strapped into their seats.

When Alaska and United Airlines started Check other Max 9 carsThey reported finding loose hardware including loose screws on some door seals. None of the other Alaska and United Max 9 planes have been found to be missing critical screws, Boeing said.

The accident raised questions about the quality of manufacturing at Boeing, which began with the crash of two Max 8 planes in 2018 and 2019, killing 346 people. In 2021, Boeing I reached a settlement With the Department of Justice to avoid criminal prosecution for conspiring to defraud government regulators by failing to accurately describe the flight control system involved in the crashes.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating whether Boeing and its suppliers followed proper safety procedures in manufacturing parts for the Max. The Federal Aviation Administration prohibited Boeing from doing so Accelerating production of 737 aircraft So that the agency is satisfied with the quality issues.

FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker said Tuesday that his agency is about halfway through a six-week review of manufacturing operations at Boeing and Spirit, its main supplier on the Max. He said the agency faces two questions: What is wrong with the MAX 9? And what’s going on with… Production at Boeing?

Spirit, which Boeing spun off as a separate company nearly 20 years ago, said in a statement that it is reviewing the NTSB’s preliminary report and working with Boeing and regulators “to continually improve our operations and meet the highest standards of safety and quality.” And reliability.”

Plug that had broken off from Alaska Flight 1282 was used to plug the remaining holes for the additional emergency doors. Alaska and United don’t have enough seats on their Max 9 planes to enable the extra outlet requirements, so they’re asking Boeing to install plugs instead because they’re lighter and cheaper than doors.

Alaska Airlines estimated to ground 65 Max 9s It cost the Seattle-based transportation company $150 millionIt expects to be compensated by Boeing. United said the grounding would lead to that Losing money in the first quarter And planning for a future without new, larger MAX planes has yet to be approved by the FAA.


This story has been corrected to note that a Spirit AeroSystems crew, not a Boeing crew, repaired the rivets.

(Tags for translation) Air accidents

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