Investigation Underway: Door Panel Blows Out of Boeing 737 Max 9
A Mysterious Incident
US aviation investigators were on the ground in Oregon on Sunday, trying to determine the cause behind a door panel blowing out of a brand new Boeing passenger jet just minutes after takeoff. This incident forced the pilots to make an emergency landing with a hole “the size of a refrigerator” in the side of the plane.
The American jet maker, Boeing, faced fresh scrutiny as regulators temporarily grounded the Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft after a section of a plugged exit door detached mid-air. The incident occurred above Portland, Oregon, with 171 passengers and six crew members on board an Alaska Airlines flight. The plane had been modified, resulting in fewer emergency exits due to the reduced number of seats.
No Widespread Flaw
Investigators stated that initial findings do not indicate a widespread flaw with the Boeing Max 9 aircraft. They solicited the public’s help in locating the missing Alaska Airlines plane door. Jennifer Homendy, Chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), mentioned that they will be looking at the pressurization system, the door, and the hinges. However, she assured that there is currently no suspicion of an overall design problem with this plane based on previous accidents involving Boeing Max.
As a result of the incident, thousands of passengers, mostly in the US, faced flight cancellations. Airlines called in inspectors to comply with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) order. These flight disruptions are expected to continue into next week.
Safety Concerns Resurface
Even though no one was seriously injured during the emergency landing, the incident has raised fresh concerns about the safety of Boeing planes. This incident came five years after two fatal accidents involving Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, which claimed the lives of 346 people and severely damaged the reputation of the US company.
In response to the fatal crashes, all Max aircraft were globally grounded for nearly two years. This allowed company engineers to identify hardware malfunctions and poorly designed software that caused the planes to override pilots and crash. In December, Boeing requested airlines to inspect its 737 Max jets for a potential loose bolt in the rudder control system.
A Different Model
The incident over Portland involved Boeing’s largest single-aisle aircraft, the 737 Max 9. This model has a seating capacity of up to 220, but most airlines have opted for fewer seats. As a result, the jet’s extra door is covered or plugged. The blown-out section was from this covered “extra” door in the fuselage.
Examining Design and Manufacturing
Investigators will examine the factories responsible for the fuselage, Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas, and Boeing’s plant near Seattle, Washington. They will be looking for potential flaws in design, manufacturing, and installation. Sources cited by Reuters suggest that the assumption is that the door was installed or rigged incorrectly. Neither Boeing nor Spirit have commented on this matter.
Jeff Guzzetti, a former NTSB and FAA official, believes that the altitude at which the door panel blew out indicates a problem with pressure. He stated that the door was not effectively maintaining pressure inside the fuselage. Fortunately, the blowout occurred before the plane reached cruising altitude, and passengers were still seated with their lap belts fastened.
Avoiding a Tragedy
Passengers on the flight were shaken up by the near miss. The situation could have been much worse if the blowout had happened during cruise altitude when passengers would typically be up and walking without their seatbelts on. Thankfully, the potential tragedy was averted.
An Unforgettable Experience
One passenger, Elizabeth Le, described hearing an extremely loud pop and seeing a large hole on the plane’s wall a few rows away. She mentioned that the gap was as wide as a refrigerator. The incident left a teenage boy and his mother in shock but without serious injuries.
Approximately 215 Boeing Max 9 airplanes are currently in operation worldwide. United and Alaska Airlines account for 70% of these jets. Other operators include Copa Airlines, Aeromexico, Turkish Airlines, FlyDubai, and IcelandAir.
The FAA has grounded and ordered inspections of only the 737 Max 9 aircraft that have been modified to lower seating capacity and include a covered cabin exit door.
Commitment to Safety
Boeing expressed that safety is its top priority and that its technical team is providing support to the NTSB investigation. The company fully supports the FAA’s decision to require immediate inspections of 737-9 airplanes with the same configuration as the affected aircraft.
According to the Aviation Safety Network, over 4,900 people have lost their lives in major incidents involving planes from the Boeing 737 family since its launch in the late 1960s.
Read More of this Story at www.theguardian.com – 2024-01-08 02:30:00
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