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Boeing’s midair door blowout ‘can happen again,’ NTSB chair warns

by Staff

The chair of the National Transportation Safety Board warned that another midair door blowout like the nearly disastrous one that happened on a Boeing 737 MAX 9 plane last month “can happen again.”

“Of course, something like this can happen again,” the NTSB’s Jennifer Homendy said on “CNN This Morning” aired Wednesday.

“There is no way that this plane should have been delivered with four safety critical bolts missing,” Homendy added, noting “a problem in the process.”

Homendy deterred travelers from Boeing’s 737 MAX 9 airliners just two days after the Federal Aviation Administration said that roughly 94% of the aircraft — 135 of 144 jets — have been inspected and cleared to fly.

Alaska Airlines and United Airlines are the only two US carriers that operate the MAX 9 Boeing model.

“Of course, something like this can happen again,” the National Transportation Safety Board chair Jennifer Homendy told CNN of the recent midair door blowout– two days after the Federal Aviation Administration said that most of Boeing’s 737 MAX 9 models were flying again. AP
On Jan. 5, an Alaska Airlines flight departed from Portland, Ore., and climbed to 16,000 feet before a fuselage blowout forced the plane to make an emergency landing. Getty Images

Separately on Tuesday, a preliminary report of the fuselage blowout on Jan. 5’s Alaska Airlines flight attributed the terrifying incident to four missing bolts intended to hold the door plug in place.

Until then, the NTSB had not said what caused the panel to rip off an Alaska Airlines-operated jet as the plane climbed to 16,000 feet after taking off from Portland, Oregon.

The event has become a full-blown safety and reputational crisis for Boeing, which has been notified by its supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, of additional manufacturing issues in some 50 undelivered 737 MAX 9 planes.

Sprit AeroSystems told Boeing Sunday that there were incorrectly drilled holes on a number of fuselages, which will require additional work expected to cause near-term delays of the aircraft.

Despite Homendy’s evaluation of the blowout — which had Boeing’s CEO Dave Calhoun fighting back tears as he acknowledged the company’s “mistake” in during an all-hands meeting — the NTSB chief said she wouldn’t be worried about getting on a MAX 9.

“They have been inspected, thoroughly, I believe,” Homendy told CNN. “I would have no problem tomorrow taking a flight on a MAX 9.”

On Tuesday, a preliminary report of the fuselage blowout on Jan. 5’s Alaska Airlines flight attributed the terrifying incident to four missing bolts intended to hold the door plug in place. AP

The Post has sought comment from the NTSB, which has reportedly started “digging [in]to FAA’s oversight board of Boeing,” according to Homendy.

She also said that that NTSB has to do a better job at “digging into what’s going on at Boeing,” noting that she agrees with Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Whitaker’s testimony before Congress on Tuesday, when he said that the agency has been depending too much on aircraft makers like Boeing to regulate themselves, per CNN.

“The current system is not working ‘cause it’s not delivering safe aircraft,” Whitaker added. “So we have to make some changes to that.”

“I absolutely agree that it needs to change,” Homendy told CNN, adding that the issue is more of “a quality control problem,” and goes beyond Alaska Airlines’ fuselage blowout last month.




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