United Airlines found loose screws on several Boeing 737 Max 9s after grounding

A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft lands at San Francisco International Airport on March 13, 2019 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

United Airlines he said Monday that he found several had loose screws on the door plugs Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft propelled during inspections when a panel of the type exploded during inspection Alaska Airlines flight at 16,000 feet last week.

The Federal Aviation Administration grounded dozens of 737 Max 9s on Saturday after a panel blew off mid-flight in Alaska on Flight 1282 and called for inspections.

United has 79 Max 9 aircraft in its fleet and is the largest operator of the jet model.

“Since preliminary inspections began on Saturday, we have found instances that appear to be related to installation issues in the door stopper — such as screws that needed additional tightening,” United said in a statement. “These findings will be corrected by our Tech Ops team so that the aircraft can be safely returned to service.”

Aircraft maker Boeing said earlier on Monday that it had issued instructions to airlines to carry out Max 9 inspections in their fleets. United has started preliminary inspection work in recent days.

No one was seriously injured in the accident aboard an Alaska Airlines flight, although a cracked panel created a force so strong that some headrests and backrests were ripped from the cabin and the cockpit door was flung open, according to initial reports from federal authorities. security investigation. There were no passengers in the two seats next to the panel.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the crash would have been worse at cruising altitude, when passengers and crews pass around the cabin.

But the accident is throwing fresh scrutiny at Boeing, which has struggled for years to eliminate a number of quality defects while ramping up production of planes, including the 737 Max. CEO Dave Calhoun spent months trying to reassure airlines, investors and financial analysts that the company was improving its supply chain and working to fix its quality problems.

Calhoun canceled an executive summit this week and plans to hold an all-staff meeting on Tuesday.

Alaska Airlines, which is preparing to inspect its fleet of more than 60 737 Max 9s, did not immediately comment on whether it had also found loose bolts.

The FAA declined to comment on United’s findings. Boeing did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The 737 Max is Boeing’s best-selling aircraft, with more than 4,000 orders pending. However, most of these orders are for the more common Max 8, which is not affected by the grounding.

Aviation publication The Air Current first reported that United had discovered the loose screws.

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