Just when Boeing appeared to be finally regaining some confidence in the company's jets - CEO Dennis Muilenburg recently announced that the 737 MAX 8 would likely be back in the air by the new year - the company's new, ultramodern wide-body jet has hit an unexpected hurdle in what was supposed to be its final structural test. During a ground test on Thursday, the door of a new Boeing 777X flew off the fuselage while several FAA inspectors were present to evaluate the test, according to a report from Seattle’s KOMO radio.
When the incident occurred, the Boeing was undergoing what is known as an "ultimate load test," where the jet's fuselage was subjected to pressure many magnitudes higher than it would likely ever experience during flight. The test is intended to ensure Boeing's jets have several layers of redundancy built in to prevent accidents during flight.
Sources telling me about an incident that happened during what was meant to be final structural test of new 777X yesterday. Plane was pressurized, under extreme load conditions on the ground. As FAA inspectors watched, door flew off. Story today on @KOMONewsradio #KOMONews 1/3 pic.twitter.com/63W1aYcQl4— Charlie Harger (@KOMOCharlie) September 6, 2019
I'm told it's highly, highly unusual to have a door come off during these tests. 3/3— Charlie Harger (@KOMOCharlie) September 6, 2019
As KOMO's Charlie Harger noted "it's highly, highly unusual to have a door come off during these tests."
The incident forced Boeing to halt the test, though fortunately nobody was hurt as the hanger where the test was being held was evacuated before engineers started pressurizing the jet's cabin.
Boeing said it's still evaluating what happened on Thursday, and that it's too early to speculate about what this means for the 777X, or what the company's next steps might be. The company did say that it has moved the target date for the first 777X test flight back until early next year.