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United and Alaska Airlines find loose parts on Boeing 737 Maxes

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United Airlines and Alaska Airlines have discovered loose parts on some of their grounded 737 Max planes, potentially widening Boeing Co’s problems after a plane suffered a blowout in the air on Friday.

Chicago-based United Airlines said on Monday that inspections of its 737 Max 9 aircraft, a variant of the single-aisle jet with more seats than the more popular Max 8, “revealed issues that appear to be related to the installation of door jams.” Relevant examples – for example, bolts that require extra tightening”.

The airline said its technical operations team would resolve the issue and “return the aircraft safely to service.”

News of United’s discovery, first reported by trade publication Airstream, further hit Boeing’s stock price. The company’s shares fell 8% on Monday to close at $229, while shares of largest supplier Spirit AeroSystems fell 11% to close at $28.20.

The discovery came after a Max 9 operated by Alaska Airlines from Oregon to California lost part of its fuselage at 16,000 feet. There were 171 passengers and 6 crew members on board, but fortunately no one was seriously injured.

Alaska also said late Monday: “Preliminary reports from our technicians indicate that some loose hardware has been discovered on some aircraft.” The airline said it was awaiting final documentation from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration to A formal inspection begins.

This image highlights the area of ​​the fuselage lost in the January 6 Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 accident

On Saturday, the FAA grounded all Max 9s equipped with jammed or permanently closing doors. Carriers with denser seating configurations use doors, while carriers with fewer seats have enclosed doors.

United has 79 Max 9s in this configuration, with about 215 in operation worldwide, according to aviation data provider Cirium. That’s more than Alaska Airlines’ 65 aircraft, or Copa Air, AeroMexico and Icelandair’s 52 aircraft combined.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident, located the hatch of the Alaska Airlines flight Monday in a Portland suburb.

At a news conference Monday, National Transportation Safety Board officials said the agency has not yet recovered the four bolts that prevent the plug from moving upward. “We have not yet determined whether [the bolts] “This is definitely the case,” said Clint Crookshanks, an engineer at the agency, adding that it would be determined through laboratory testing in Washington.

“If there was a bolt, it would prevent the door from translating up and disengaging . . . and flying off the plane,” he said. “But the bolts could break or anything could happen [can happen] We have to look at this. “

United has canceled 200 Max 9 flights, slightly less than 8% of Monday’s flights, according to data provider FlightAware. Alaska Airlines has canceled 22% of its flights.

United said Saturday it had begun preparations to inspect the grounded planes, removing two rows of seats and removing interior panels to access door jams. Viewed from the inside, the blocked door has a window that appears to be an integral part of the plane’s wall.

The airline said the work has been completed on most of its Max 9 aircraft. From there, airline staff will inspect and verify that the door and frame hardware are installed correctly, open and then secure again, and the problem will be documented and fixed.

Boeing on Monday released a technical note outlining how to install the doors for airlines.

The FAA, which reviewed the instructions, said Saturday that each inspection should last four to eight hours.

“We will remain in close contact with operators as they conduct necessary inspections and will help resolve any issues identified,” the planemaker said. “We are committed to ensuring that every Boeing aircraft meets design specifications and the highest standards. ​Safety and quality standards. We regret the impact this has had on our customers and their passengers.”

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