Boeing, a prominent player in the aviation industry, is grappling with a series of incidents surrounding its 737 Max 9 planes, resulting in a substantial blow to its reputation. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has initiated an investigation into Boeing’s safety practices, leading to the grounding of these planes for enhanced inspections. This article provides an in-depth exploration of the incidents, the ensuing inspections, and the backlash faced by Boeing.
Alaska Airlines Incident and Grounding:
On January 5, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 encountered a sudden depressurization as an exit door dislodged shortly after takeoff, causing a significant breach in the aircraft’s side. Preceding this event, the plane had been restricted from long overwater flights due to a pressurization warning light issue. Consequently, the FAA ordered the grounding of all Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory.
Inspections and Findings:
In the course of inspections, both United Airlines and Alaska Airlines identified loose bolts on the door plugs of several Boeing 737 Max 9s. These findings raised concerns about the overall safety and maintenance practices of the aircraft. The FAA has mandated enhanced inspections, and Boeing is expected to submit revised instructions for review.
Understanding the Exit Door Plug:
The exit door plug, crucial for sealing unused emergency exits on planes, is secured with bolts, cables, and stop pads. The Alaska Airlines incident revealed fractured fittings at the top of the door plug, enabling unexpected movement. The exact cause, such as loose or missing bolts, is still under investigation.
Past Safety Concerns with 737 MAXs:
Boeing has confronted safety concerns regarding its 737 MAX jets in the past. Two crashes in 2018 and 2019 led to the global grounding of these planes, raising questions about quality control and safety practices at Boeing. While the FAA permitted the 737 MAX to resume flights in the U.S., the company sought safety exemptions and encouraged airlines to inspect rudder control systems for potential loose hardware.
Boeing’s Backlash and Financial Impact:
Recent incidents and safety concerns have had a profound impact on Boeing. The company’s shares have plummeted, and its reputation has suffered. Suppliers, including Spirit AeroSystems, have also faced adverse consequences. Congress has called for hearings to evaluate the safety of the 737 MAX aircraft. Both United Airlines and Alaska Airlines have canceled numerous flights, causing disruptions for passengers.
What caused the grounding of Boeing 737 Max 9 planes?
- The grounding was triggered by an incident where an exit door flew off an Alaska Airlines flight, highlighting safety concerns.
What were the findings during inspections of the planes?
- Inspections revealed loose bolts on the door plugs of several Boeing 737 Max 9s, raising concerns about maintenance practices.
What is an exit door plug?
- An exit door plug is used to seal unused emergency exits on planes, secured with bolts, cables, and stop pads.
Has Boeing faced safety concerns with the 737 MAX series before?
- Yes, previous crashes and subsequent investigations raised questions about the quality control and safety practices of the 737 MAX jets.
How has Boeing been impacted by the recent incidents?
- Boeing’s shares have plunged, and the company faces backlash from Congress and disrupted operations for airlines using the 737 Max 9 planes.