United Airlines Finds Loose Bolts On Multiple Airplanes

(Cupventi.com) – United Airlines made an official announcement on Monday, revealing the discovery of loose bolts within its 737 Max 9 fleet during routine inspections. This revelation came in the aftermath of a concerning incident involving an Alaska Airlines plane, where a door plug was forcefully expelled over the weekend. The precise number of aircraft affected by the loose bolts remains undisclosed by United at this time.

In a carefully worded statement, United explained, “Since we commenced preliminary inspections on Saturday, we have identified instances that seem to be linked to installation issues in the door plug – for instance, bolts that required additional tightening.”

The airline assured the public that its dedicated Tech Ops team would promptly address these findings to ensure the comprehensive safety of the affected aircraft before their return to service.

Responding to the severity of the situation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) took swift action, grounding all 737 Max 9s as an immediate safety precaution. The FAA emphasized its unwavering commitment to prioritizing the safety of the flying public, stating, “We have grounded the affected airplanes, and they will remain grounded until the FAA is satisfied that they are safe.”

United, grappling with the consequences of the emergency inspections, had to cancel 200 Max 9 flights on Monday. Anticipating the continuation of significant cancellations on the following day, the airline faced operational challenges that extended beyond the immediate aftermath of the incident.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), responsible for investigating the Alaska Airlines incident near Portland, Oregon, has yet to comment on the findings presented by United Airlines.

The NTSB has successfully recovered the door plug, a pivotal piece of evidence, intact. This sizable component, measuring 26 by 46 inches and weighing 63 pounds, is currently under close scrutiny through the lens of a laboratory telescope.

The Alaska Airlines incident unfolded when the door plug detached from the Boeing 737 Max 9 at an altitude of 16,000 feet. Despite the ensuing “explosive decompression,” the skilled flight crew managed to safely guide the aircraft back to Portland.

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy underscored the gravity of the situation, highlighting the potential for tragedy had the incident occurred at a higher altitude.

The investigation into the incident revealed extensive damage to the aircraft’s cabin, including the forceful opening of the cockpit door and the ejection of various items from the plane. Homendy described the chaotic scene inside the cabin, noting the loss of headrests, a tray table, and even two cell phones during the turbulent incident.

Complicating matters, the investigation identified three previous incidents on the same Alaska Airlines plane related to the auto pressurization fail light. These incidents occurred during flights on December 7, 2023, January 3, and January 4. Homendy clarified that in these previous instances, the flight crew followed standard procedures by switching to alt mode, with no significant consequences.

The question of correlation between the auto pressurization light incidents and the subsequent door plug ejection remains unanswered, and investigators are actively exploring this avenue. Alaska Airlines took precautionary measures, restricting the aircraft from flying over water and confining it to overland routes to expedite potential returns to airports in case of emergencies related to pressurization issues.

Homendy disclosed that, unfortunately, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recovered from the plane did not yield valuable data due to its regular resetting every two hours. Despite this setback, investigators are diligently examining the door plug, its frame, and all associated components to uncover the root cause of the alarming incident.

Furthermore, interviews with the six-member flight crew and passengers are underway to gather additional insights into the events leading up to the incident and the subsequent response from those on board. The meticulous nature of the investigation reflects the commitment to ensuring the safety and security of air travel for passengers worldwide.