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United Airlines finds loose bolts on several Boeing 737 Max 9s

Thursday, January 11, 2024

UNITED Airlines says it has found loose bolts on door plugs of several Boeing 737 Max 9 planes during inspections spurred when a panel of that type blew out during an Alaska Airlines flight using that type of aircraft last week.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all 737 Max 9s in the wake of the Alaska Airlines incident.

“The FAA’s first priority is keeping the flying public safe,” it said in a statement. “We have grounded the affected airplanes, and they will remain grounded until the FAA is satisfied that they are safe.”

United has 79 of the Max 9 planes in its fleet and is the biggest operator of the jet model, according to CNBC.

United said that due to the emergency inspections, it had to cancel 200 Max 9 flights on Monday and expects “significant cancellations” on Tuesday, as well.

“Since we began preliminary inspections on Saturday, we have found instances that appear to relate to installation issues in the door plug – for example, bolts that needed additional tightening,” United said in a statement. “These findings will be remedied by our Tech Ops team to safely return the aircraft to service.”

No one was seriously injured in the accident aboard the Alaska Airlines flight, though the blown-out panel produced a force so violent that some headrests and seatbacks were ripped from the cabin and the cockpit door was flung open, according to initial details of a federal safety investigation. No passengers were seated in the two seats next to the panel.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the accident would have been worse at cruising altitude when passengers and crews are walking around the cabin.

But the accident places fresh scrutiny on Boeing, which has spent years trying to clean up a host of quality defects, while also ramping up aircraft production, including of the 737 Max.

Alaska Airlines, which is set to inspect its fleet of more than 60 737 Max 9s, didn’t immediately comment on whether it, too, has found loose bolts.