Troubling Bolts and Grounded MAX-9s: Airline Inspections Spark Safety Concerns

: United Airlines has found loose bolts and other parts on 737 Max 9 plug doors as it inspects its fleet of Boeing jets

A wave of unease washed over the aviation industry after United Airlines, the largest operator of 737 MAX-9 aircraft, discovered defective bolts in its fleet following the mid-air door loss incident on an Alaska Airlines MAX-9 flight.

With all 79 of their Boeing MAX-9s grounded for inspection, United joins 162 other aircraft of the same model grounded worldwide for safety checks ordered by the FAA.

 The door came off a Boeing 737-9 during an Alaska Airlines flight
 The door came off a Boeing 737-9 during an Alaska Airlines flight

The unsettling discovery came only three days after the Alaska Airlines incident, prompting urgent action across airlines. In a statement, United acknowledged issues with door panel installations, including "bolts that needed to be tightened." This specific door configuration, offered by Boeing for aircraft with sufficient existing emergency exits, is present not only on the MAX-9 but also on older models like the 737-900ER, without any prior incidents reported.

United outlined a meticulous inspection process for each aircraft, involving panel removal, temporary seat removal, attachment point checks, door opening, and corrective measures before reassembly. Meanwhile, Aeromexico expressed optimism about a swift return for their 19 MAX-9s, claiming to be in the "final phase of a detailed inspection" with service resumption expected within days.

The widespread grounding due to faulty bolts highlights safety concerns surrounding the 737 MAX-9 and the pressure on airlines to ensure meticulous inspections. Only time will tell if these measures effectively address the underlying issues and restore public confidence in this troubled aircraft model.

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