The recent crisis surrounding Boeing's latest 737 MAX has intensified following revelations from United Airlines and Alaska Airlines, stating that they discovered loose components on several grounded MAX 9 planes. This has sparked fresh worries among industry experts regarding the manufacturing processes of Boeing's popular jet series.
Following an incident where a panel detached from a MAX 9 aircraft operated by Alaska Airlines shortly after departure from a Portland, Oregon airport, U.S. regulators have grounded 171 MAX 9 planes, as per a report by Reuters. This forced the pilots to take immediate action to safely land the aircraft.
Earlier this week, Alaska Airlines reported that their technicians initially observed "loose hardware" in the relevant area during checks of their fleet's aircraft, according to preliminary findings.
The airline was awaiting documentation from both Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before initiating formal inspections. United, another U.S. carrier operating the same Boeing model with the panels, indicated that their preliminary examinations identified bolts requiring tightening on multiple panels, as per the report. The revelations regarding loose components on the grounded MAX 9 planes have intensified apprehensions regarding the production process of these aircraft.
Ensuring close coordination with MAX 9 operators, Boeing has pledged assistance in addressing inspection findings. Despite the aircraft's limited usage by a few carriers, emerging passenger concerns about its safety could intensify pressure on Boeing. Since the 20-month grounding of the 737 MAX family following two fatal crashes in March 2019 that claimed 346 lives, the company has been grappling with continuous challenges.