It’s not been a good week for Boeing. Their 737 Max 9 model continues to plague the company, with the latest Alaska Airlines incident catching the attention of federal regulators. A piece of the plane blew off mid-flight on a flight from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California, last weekend. The missing door was eventually located, but dozens of flights using this aircraft were rightfully grounded pending further investigation.
During those inspections by the airlines, the door plugs were found to be insufficiently secure, along with bolts that needed tightening. We’re dealing with the lives of countless people who participate in air travel daily. So, it shouldn’t be shocking that the Federal Aviation Administration is launching an investigation into the Alaska Airlines incident, as this continues to be a problem (via NBC News):
The Federal Aviation Administration announced an investigation into Boeing after an Alaska Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing when a door plug fell off the fuselage midair.
“This incident should have never happened and it cannot happen again,” the FAA said in a statement Thursday.
The administration said it notified Boeing of its investigation, which will look into whether Boeing “failed to ensure completed products conformed to its approved design and were in a condition for safe operation in compliance with FAA regulations.”
“This investigation is a result of an incident on a Boeing Model 737-9 MAX where it lost a ‘plug’ type passenger door and additional discrepancies,” the statement said. “Boeing’s manufacturing practices need to comply with the high safety standards they’re legally accountable to meet.”
The FAA had previously ordered the temporary grounding of some Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft for inspections, affecting about 171 planes worldwide. The decision was supported by Boeing.
Last year, Spirit AeroSystems, the manufacturer of the door plug, was the subject of a class action lawsuit that alleged “widespread quality failures.”
The suit, filed in New York in May by investors, didn’t specifically mention door plugs, but noted failures including defects such as “the routine presence of foreign object debris” in its products, peeling paint and missing fasteners.
We’re lucky this incident just involved a door flying off and nothing else. In 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines flight using a Boeing 737 9 Max crashed and killed all onboard.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the “dream team” at the manufacturer that made the plane door that just blew off in the middle of a flight pic.twitter.com/gZ2AboGnpR
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) January 11, 2024