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Updated January 15th, 2024 at 15:10 IST

US investigating Boeing followed design standards for blown cabin door

The Federal Aviation Administration’s investigation is focusing on plugs used to fill spots for extra exits, when those doors are not required on Boeing 737 Max

Reported by: Business Desk
Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets
Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets | Image:Alaska Airlines
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No respite over cabin blowout: Federal officials in the United States are investigating if Boeing failed to make sure a panel that blew off a jetliner in midflight last week was safe and manufactured according to regulator-approved design standards.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s investigation is focusing on plugs used to fill spots for extra exits, when those doors are not required on Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliners.

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The plug that blew off an Alaska Airlines Max 9 was found near Portland, Oregon, and will be examined in a government laboratory.

“This incident should have never happened and it cannot happen again,” the FAA said in a statement.

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The agency said Boeing's response should include “the root cause of the encountered condition(s)" and steps the company is taking to prevent a recurrence.

“Boeing's manufacturing practices need to comply with the high safety standards they're legally accountable to meet.” The FAA notified Boeing of the investigation in a letter dated Wednesday and asked it to respond within 10 business days.

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The FAA has grounded 737 MAX 9 jets, including all 65 operated by Alaska and 79 used by United Airlines until Boeing can develop inspection guidelines and planes can be examined. 

Alaska has cancelled all flights by Max 9s through Saturday.

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Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have said they have not been able to find four bolts that are used to help secure the 63-pound door plug. 

They are also not sure whether the bolts were there before the plane took off.

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Despite a hole in the side of the plane, pilots were able to return to Portland and make an emergency landing. No serious injuries were reported.

Notably, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun met employees this week at the 737 factory near Seattle, saying the planemaker must own up to its shortcomings over the safety issue, that also looms questions over manufacturing quality.

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Published January 12th, 2024 at 08:04 IST

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