Alaska Airlines Washington National Airport
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Bolts Were Missing From Door Plug on Alaska Airlines Airplane

The preliminary report is from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Bolts were missing from the door plug on an Alaska Airlines airplane that caused the door to blow off of the brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane during a flight to Ontario in California not long after departure from Portland International Airport in Oregon on the evening of Friday, January 5, 2024.

Bolts Were Missing From Door Plug on Alaska Airlines Airplane

According to this preliminary report that was issued earlier today, Tuesday, February 6, 2024 by the National Transportation Safety Board of the United States, “The two vertical movement arrestor bolts, two upper guide track bolts, forward lower hinge guide fitting, and forward lift assist spring were missing and have not been recovered.”

The Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane — which operated as Alaska Airlines flight 1282 and whose registration number is N704AL — returned to Portland and landed safely with 177 people aboard in total: 171 passengers and six members of the flight crew.

After the incident, the Federal Aviation Administration of the Department of Transportation of the United States ordered the temporary grounding of 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplanes worldwide, which has since been rescinded.

Emergency exits aboard the Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane that are not used are sealed up by four bolts with door plugs, which give airlines the opportunity to add more seats to the cabin. They are only visible outside of the airplane. The four bolts are alleged to not have been installed on the door plug at the time that it blew off of the aircraft.

Final Boarding Call

Thankfully, no fatalities or serious injuries were reported as a result of this incident, whose outcome could have potentially been significantly worse.

Missing bolts seems like such a careless error that could have been resolved in minutes. Did no one double check this potentially critical oversight? Are preventive measures not in place for safety?

I restate that I am not sure what happened to the quality control of airplanes that are manufactured by The Boeing Company — but it needs to be substantially improved as soon as possible to help prevent incidents such as this one from occurring in the future. Perhaps a broader investigation of the company itself and the government entities which are directly associated with it is needed…?

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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