Sources tell the aviation blog The Air Current that "loose bolts and other parts on 737 Max 9 plug doors" have been found after inspections following the Alaska Airlines mid-air mishap when a door ripped off the plane over Portland on Friday.
BREAKING: United has found loose bolts and other parts on 737 Max 9 plug doors as it inspects its fleet of Boeing jets following the rapid depressurization aboard an Alaska jet, according to three people familiar with the findings. https://t.co/pcPx9I8Z0l (via @theaircurrent)— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) January 8, 2024
"The discrepant bolts and other parts on the plug doors have been found on at least five aircraft," the source said.
Following @jonostrower's scoop on United finding 737-9s with loose door plug screws, a source sent this image of one of the door plug's lower hinge bracket with a note that 2 screws are not screwed all the way in. https://t.co/sz1d997PdL pic.twitter.com/d6hgHAEb2u— Edward Russell (@ByERussell) January 8, 2024
The Air Current noted, "The findings aboard the five United aircraft will likely significantly widen the fall-out from the grounding, intensifying the focus on Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems. The pair together is responsible for the assembly, installation and quality checks of the aircraft structure."
A United spokesperson confirmed the findings:
"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.
"These findings will be remedied by our Tech Ops team to safely return the aircraft to service."
There are 215 737 Max 9s in service across 11 major airlines.
"Not sure that can be attributable to just one line. Might have to ground all Boeing aircraft delivered in a given window of time?" one X user said.
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National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chair Jennifer Homendy said cockpit recording data on the Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 jet, which lost a fuselage panel that triggered a sudden decompression event near Portland on Friday, won't be retrieved because the data was erased.
On Sunday, Homendy told reporters that after Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 made an emergency landing at Portland International Airport - the ground crew did not pull the circuit breaker on the cockpit voice recorder, or black box, to preserve the audio, which only holds two hours or data, as required by federal law.
"There was a lot going on, on the flight deck and on the plane. It's a very chaotic event. The circuit breaker for the CVR (cockpit voice recorder) was not pulled. The maintenance team went out to get it, but it was right at about the two-hour mark," Homendy said.
She continued: "The cockpit voice recorder was completely overwritten. There was nothing on the cockpit voice recorder."
Reuters noted US cockpit recorders only need to log two hours of data versus 25 hours in Europe for aircraft made after 2021.
The NTSB head said the audio could have shed more light on the moments leading up to the aircraft's door ripping off the fuselage at 16,000 feet.
Boeing & Spirit AeroSystems Shares Plunge After Max 737-9 Max Door Blowout Incident https://t.co/8DD60MxY2I— zerohedge (@zerohedge) January 8, 2024
Homendy called on the "FAA to change the rulemaking" on cockpit recorders, extending the recording time from 2 to 25 hours for all aircraft.
"If that communication is not recorded, that is unfortunately a loss for us and a loss for the FAA and a loss for safety because that information is key not just for our investigation but for improving aviation safety," she said.
During the decompression event, a new-generation Apple iPhone was sucked out of the plane and landed near a road in Portland. An X user named "Seanathan Bates" discovered the device, which did not appear to be damaged.
Found an iPhone on the side of the road... Still in airplane mode with half a battery and open to a baggage claim for #AlaskaAirlines ASA1282 Survived a 16,000 foot drop perfectly in tact!— Seanathan Bates (@SeanSafyre) January 7, 2024
When I called it in, Zoe at @NTSB said it was the SECOND phone to be found. No door yet😅 pic.twitter.com/CObMikpuFd
In a separate report, Bloomberg Intelligence's George Ferguson and Melissa Balzano believe the in-flight mishap "probably stems from a manufacturing oversight, a sign of deficiency at Spirit AeroSystems, Boeing's key supplier."
Diagram of a Boeing 737-9 mid-cabin door plug and components (Source: Boeing) pic.twitter.com/7qPF5MGAOX— NTSB Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) January 8, 2024
Don't forget the Max program is a flying disaster.
As a reminder, the 737 Max was "designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys".https://t.co/Z5rt2LoI3e— zerohedge (@zerohedge) January 6, 2024
The FAA has previously rejected the NTSB's call to upgrade aircraft with new cockpit voice recorders. That should be reversed since Max jets "designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys' continue to fly around.