An incident in which a panel ripped off a 737 Max-9 plane has led to the aircraft model being grounded in multiple countries
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has acknowledged design faults that resulted in a large piece of fuselage from a Boeing 737 Max-9 breaking off soon after takeoff last Friday. Several of the company’s major clients have since pointed to Boeing’s long-standing “quality control problems.”
The ill-fated Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 took off from Portland, Oregon and was heading to California when the blowout left a gaping hole in its left side, as seen in footage recorded by passengers. Flight tracking data indicated that the jet had reached an altitude of 16,000ft (4876 meters) before it began its emergency descent. While none of the 177 passengers and crew on board were injured, several people required medical attention.
Addressing employees during a meeting at Boeing’s 737 factory outside Seattle on Tuesday, CEO Dave Calhoun said: “We’re going to approach this, number one, acknowledging our mistake.” He also promised “100% and complete transparency every step of the way.”
Meanwhile, on Saturday, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it had ordered the temporary grounding of 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft for inspection.
National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy warned on Monday that her agency may broaden the probe, which would potentially entail deeper scrutiny for Boeing and its manufacturing processes.
Turkish Airlines also announced that it would suspend the operation of its five Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft pending technical review, with Latin American carriers Copa Airlines and Aeromexico grounding 40 planes as well.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency, as well as Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority, reported that none of the airlines operating on their respective territories “currently operate[s] an aircraft in the affected configuration.”
Alaska Air Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings said they had discovered several more 737 Max 9 jets with loose bolts after the FAA’s grounding order.
Commenting on last week’s incident, Emirates’ chief Tim Clark said Boeing has “had quality control problems for a long time now, and this is just another manifestation of that.”
Having entered service in 2017, the Max 9 is the latest in Boeing’s 737 series of twin-engine, single-aisle planes. There are approximately 1,300 jets believed to be in service at present.
The model has been plagued by a series of mishaps in recent years, with two crashes in Ethiopia (2019) and Indonesia (2018) claiming a total of 346 lives. Those tragedies saw the aircraft grounded for 20 months in March 2019.
January 10, 2024 at 05:22PM