Alaska Airlines said more “loose hardware” has been found on some of its grounded Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes in the wake of last week’s midair blowout — after United revealed that bolts on several of its jets needed tightening.
In a statement released Monday night, Alaska Airlines said that initial reports from its technicians “indicate some loose hardware was visible on some aircraft.”
The air carrier added that all of its planes were being “thoroughly inspected in accordance with detailed instructions provided by the [Federal Aviation Administration] in consultation with Boeing.”
The airline was waiting for final paperwork from Boeing and the FAA, which on Saturday temporarily took out of service 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes before formal inspections could get under way.
Also on Monday, United Airlines said its preliminary checks found bolts that needed tightening on door plugs of the type that was blown out of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 shortly after takeoff from Portland International Airport last Friday.
United has found nearly 10 aircraft with loose bolts during its preliminary inspections, according to a source familiar with the matter, up from an initial five first reported by industry publication The Air Current.
There is still ongoing wrangling between Boeing, the FAA and the individual airlines using MAX 9 planes on the inspection guidelines.
Boeing is expected to change the guidelines it submitted to airlines earlier Monday, and the FAA would have to sign off on those new guidleines before the airlines could begin repairs, sources said.
“We are committed to ensuring every Boeing airplane meets design specifications and the highest safety and quality standards,” the plane manufacturer said. “We regret the impact this has had on our customers and their passengers.”
Once the final process is greenlit by the FAA, inspections are expected to take several days, forcing the cancellation of numerous flights.
The FAA said the 171 MAX 9 jetliners installed with the same fuselage panel that was blown out would remain out of the sky “until operators complete enhanced inspections which include both left and right cabin door exit plugs, door components, and fasteners.”
The Alaska Airlines flight from Portland, Oregon, Friday was forced to make a dramatic emergency landing after the large panel was sucked out of the plane at 16,000 feet in the air, along with some passengers’ belongings, leaving a gaping rectangular hole in the aircraft.
The door plug was found by a Portland science teacher in his backyard Sunday.
With Post wires