Report: Bolts Were Missing When Plane Left Factory

Workers apparently failed to reinstall them at Boeing plant, 'Wall Street Journal' reports
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2024 2:48 PM CST
Report: Max 9 Was Missing Bolts When It Left Factory
Boeing employees listen to Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO and other employees in Renton, Washington, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024.   (Boeing via AP)

Mystery solved? Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that bolts needed to secure a door plug on an Alaska Airlines aircraft were missing when the Boeing 737 Max 9 left the factory. The sources say workers apparently failed to reinstall the bolts when they opened or removed the panel at Boeing's Renton, Washington, factory. The door plug blew out during a Jan. 5 flight, leading to the temporary grounding of all Max 9s operated by Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, the only other US airline that has them in its fleet.

According to the Journal's sources, investigators haven't found markings on the door that would indicate bolts were in place when the panel blew out. The sources say there were lapses in paperwork related to the door plug, which was in place when Spirit AeroSystems delivered the fuselage to Boeing. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, chair of the Senate aviation subcommittee, says the investigation "is going to show that there has been lack of documentation when it comes to how and when those pins were installed or removed and whether or not they were reinstalled or not."

Last week, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci said the airline had found loose bolts on "many" Boeing planes in inspections after the Jan. 5 incident. The Federal Aviation Administration approved an inspection process last week to allow the aircraft to return to the skies. Alaska Airlines resumed flying Max 9s on Friday following what it called "rigorous inspections" that took around 12 hours per plane, ABC News reports. (More Boeing stories.)

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