‘Loose hardware’ on 737-9 Max jets, flights still running: Latest in the Alaska Airlines investigation

NEW DELHI: Alaska Airlines flight 1282 made an emergency landing as a part of the plane flew off mid-flight going from Portland, Oregon to Ontario, California on January 5, causing panic and worldwide concerns on flight safety. Following the incident, aviation authorities and airline companies are conducting checks on their own planes to prevent any more potential disasters.An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the incident.
Here’s what we know so far about the investigation:

  • Alaska Airlines reported on the evening of January 8 that during fleet inspections, their technicians discovered the presence of “loose hardware” in the relevant area.
  • United Airlines also faced similar issues with their Boeing jets, including the Max 9 model, which led the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ground all Max 9 jets operated by both carriers. United Airlines also reported the need for tightening bolts on several panels during initial inspections.
  • An insider source revealed that United has identified nearly 10 flights with loose bolts during their inspections, surpassing the initial count of five reported by industry publication The Air Current quoted by Reuters. This number could potentially increase.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the authority responsible for investigating the Alaska Airlines incident, has confirmed that the missing part has been recovered. They are now examining the door plug and fuselage and will be sending it to the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, DC for further analysis.
  • The FAA has also said that the flight crew had complained about pressurisation issues on tha Alaska flight.
  • In response to these incidents, several airline companies have taken precautionary measures by grounding their Max 9 jets. The Indian aviation regulatory authority, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has ordered inspections of 737-8 Max jets, as Indian operators do not have the 737-9 Max jet in their fleet yet.

Boeing, the FAA, and the airlines are currently engaged in ongoing discussions regarding specific inspection guidelines. Concerns have also been raised by many flyers regarding the safety of flying in 737-9 Max jets.
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