The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary findings Tuesday about the emergency landing of an Alaska Airlines flight. the door panel fell out of the air.
A picture of a Boeing 737 at a factory in Renton, Washington, showed that no bolts were installed in the door jamb on the faulty door panel.
“Photographic documentation obtained from Boeing shows evidence that the left side MED plug was closed in three visible locations without any retaining devices (bolts),” the report said, using an acronym to refer to the middle exit door.
However, it was not clear what stage of production the plane was at when the photo was taken.
The defective plug was manufactured by Spirit AeroSystems Malaysia on March 24, 2023 and received at Spirit AeroSystems Wichita on May 10, 2023, the report states. The fuselage was then installed and outfitted on Spirit AeroSystems Fuselage Line 8789 before being shipped to Boeing on August 20, 2023. The fuselage arrived at Boeing’s Renton facility on August 31, 2023, according to the report.
In a statement Tuesday, Boeing said it appreciates the NTSB’s work and will “expeditiously” review the findings while continuing to cooperate with the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration investigations.
“Regardless of the final outcome, Boeing is responsible for what happened,” Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun said in a statement. “This should not happen on an aircraft leaving our factory. We simply must do better for our customers and their passengers. We are implementing a comprehensive plan to strengthen quality and the trust of our stakeholders. This will require significant, demonstrated action and transparency every step of the way – and we will This is exactly where we focus our attention.”
On Jan. 5, a plane from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario International Airport in San Bernardino County, California, carrying 177 people, exploded, causing a gap in the side of the plane. Many passengers described hearing a “loud sound”.” Shortly after takeoff. A passenger’s photo showed a missing panel on the side of the fuselage.
The Federal Aviation Administration has grounded all 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft operating in the United States amid the NTSB investigation. The FAA said so, too Boeing is strengthening production and manufacturing controls.
In testimony to the House Aviation Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Tuesday, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker provided more details about the increased scrutiny currently being conducted at Boeing.
“We’re proposing to expand the oversight approach to include both audit and inspection, so we’re moving inspectors into facilities,” Whitaker said. “We know what we need to do next, which is to be in more places to check what’s going on.”
Whitaker added that the Jan. 5 incident prompted the FAA to determine whether there were any manufacturing problems at Boeing.
“There have been problems in the past and they haven’t been resolved, so we think we need a high sense of control to get from here on out,” he said. “I think we’re going to need more boots on the ground, we’re going to need more inspectors. We don’t have a lot of inspectors on the aircraft certification side of the house.”
Earlier this month, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines has confirmed plans to return its fleet of Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft to service. Alaska said in an earnings report that it is preparing to complete inspections of its fleet, and that each aircraft will be returned to service once it passes the inspection.
Boeing was sued by several passengers of the plane where the door jamb broke off in mid-air. The class-action lawsuit alleges that the company “delivered the 737 Max 9 to Alaska Airlines, Inc. without properly attaching the (door) jamb to the fuselage” and that the bolts and seals used to install the panel were defective. They said that the incident shook them and they were physically injured.
The suit says the plane depressurized after the door jamb was removed, “tearing off one guy’s shirt and blowing cell phones, other debris and most of the oxygen out of the plane.” The plane landed safely at Portland Airport. The door plug it has since been found and sent to Washington as part of an NTSB investigation.