737 incidents prompt new scrutiny at Boeing

 By the Leeham News Team


 Jan. 8, 2024, © Leeham News: Following in the footsteps of the 737 rudder bolt omission inspection just last month, we have the Jan. 5 incident on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 in which an emergency exit plug door blew off the airplane at 16,500 ft.  This may indicate another quality assurance failure at either Boeing or Spirit AeroSystems.

The door plug design used on the Boeing 737-900/900ER, 737-8-200 and 737-9. Credit: Boeing, via the National Transportation Safety Board.

We don’t know if this is a Boeing problem, a Spirit problem, a bolt manufacturer problem, or an Alaska Airlines problem. It’s way too soon in the investigation to draw conclusions. Certainly, because it’s Boeing’s name on the airplane, and especially given the MAX history, people are jumping to the conclusion that Boeing screwed up again. While this may ultimately prove true, LNA is not at all prepared to conclude today that this is the case.

Illustration of the bolt locations securing the Boeing 737-9 door plug to the airframe. Credit: Capt. Chris Brady.

The flight left Portland (OR) for Ontario (CA) about 4:30pm. Six minutes later, as the two-month-old Boeing 737 MAX 9 was climbing through 16,500 ft to cruising altitude, the inactive emergency exit plug door, aft of the wing on the left side of the plane, separated from the aircraft. Decompression followed, with an emergency descent and landing back at Portland. There were no serious injuries.

The area where the door plug and cell phones fell from Alaska Airlines Flight 1282. Credit: Google Earth, NTSB.

Boeing and Spirit have been plagued in recent years by quality “escapes.” Inspection and quality assurance may be the culprit again. The official investigation will take some time. The rapid issuance of the Emergency AD Note mandating only a one time inspection is a logical response to something having been misassembled, with the fix being to verify it is assembled per drawing. Whether this is another piece of poor workmanship not being caught by inspection remains to be seen.

The following analysis was compiled by LNA’s news team.

Incomplete Picture

There is an incomplete picture of the factors leading to Flight 1282’s incident. But initial suspicion suggests this may be another inspection “escape,” whether at Boeing or Spirit.

But it’s important to note that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will look beyond Boeing and Spirit. Were the bolts subject to a manufacturing defect that caused a failure? Did Alaska have occasion to open the door plug between the time the airplane was delivered on Oct. 31 and entered service on Nov. 11? If so, was it reinstalled correctly?

Related article

Alaska’s maintenance partner didn’t use the door plug for wi-fi work: Bloomberg

A door plug departed the aircraft, leading to depressurization, an emergency descent, and an emergency landing. Nobody was seated next to the door or the adjacent middle seat. The teenager’s shirt was ripped off in the incident, but the passenger apparently was uninjured. Oxygen masks deployed.

Pictures of the aircraft post-accident show the door appeared to leave the plane cleanly, with only minor damage to the door surround. A prime candidate for the cause of the incident seems to have been identified as door locking bolts. There has been an Emergency Airworthiness Directive issued by the Federal Aviation Administration for inspection of the MAX 9’s door plug. The affected MAX 9s are grounded until the inspection and any fix are completed. The process takes 4-8 hours.

Exterior view of Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9, N704AL. The door plug appears to have separated cleanly. Credit: Capt. Chris Brady.

The FAA issuing the corrective action quickly seems to have tacitly indicated that the cause has been identified and corrected.

Examining the damage

The aircraft door departed the aircraft without any real damage to the structure being apparent in the photos. It looks like the door was released from the aircraft without disturbing the mounting lugs. This could be explained by the omission of the bolts securing the door against vertical movement that would allow the plug door to “unlatch” from the structure and be blown free of the aircraft as it depressurizes.

This would also explain the lack of visible door jamb damage. We don’t know why the door left the aircraft, but we do know that its departure could not occur unless one or more of the four corner bolts were missing.

If this is all true, and we see no other reasonable explanation, this is yet another inspection escape. The photographs of fuselages on railcars coming to Boeing from Spirit show these doors installed, but they may be subsequently removed and reinstalled at Renton, so there is some question of whose inspection system is the root cause.

The interior view of Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9, N704AL, where the door plug had been. Credit: Capt. Chris Brady.

Capt. Chris Brady, a UK 737 pilot, created a video examining the plug door in response to the 1282 incident. for the information found on his video. The video at the 21:45 mark describes the AS1282 incident in detail.

Inspection procedures

We know from experience with the production paper at Boeing that there are four levels of inspection commonly employed on each “Operation and/or Job.”

Manufacturing Verify

The first level of scrutiny is “Manufacturing Verify”. This means that a manufacturing employee who is not a member of the Quality Organization may sign the operation off as complete as the complexity of the operation or the potential for a defect poses minimal risk of downstream problems.

An example of this would be the drilling of non-close tolerance holes, installation of secondary structure items like covers and fairings, carpets, cabin sidewalls, and things that have a tolerance window that is easily accomplished by the mechanic where an occasional error does not compromise the product.

 Manufacturing Lead Verify

The Second level of scrutiny is “Manufacturing Lead Verify”. This applies a second set of manufacturing eyeballs on the operation to make sure the task is accomplished correctly in cases where a Quality Assurance Verify is not deemed to be necessary.

QA Verify

The Third level of scrutiny is QA Verify. This is a traceable inspection where a specific task is inspected by a member of the Quality organization.

Due to the number of QA inspectors on the floor and the incredible number of jobs being closed daily off the Control Code Bar Charts, not as many jobs as you may think actually get a QA Verify operation inserted in them.

QA Verify is reserved for situations where the risk of a manufacturing error would have an unacceptable outcome on the product. We also need to be clear on the difference between a QA Verify operation in the workflow (operations) portion of a job, and the QA Verify Job Complete at the end of a job.

QA Verify ops in the job means a set of QA eyeballs is looking at the airplane. QA Verify Job Complete is a bookkeeping step where the inspector, looking at the paperwork, makes sure it’s all stamped off correctly by manufacturing and is ready to be filed as completed.

Customer Verify

Finally, we have the holy grail of inspections, Customer Verify. This inspection step is applied to the job at the request of the customer who decides what they wish to inspect. This places customer representative eyeballs inside the build process where they think they need to observe the build process. That stacks 3 sets of eyeballs on a specific item, Mechanic, QA, and Customer.

FAA Surveillance

Now we overlay the FAA into the process. Every job in the factory is checked by the FAA on a statistically based periodic basis using job complexity and bad outcome risk to drive what is reviewed when. Here we need to make the distinction that the Job Content is reviewed, not its use on each airplane.

The FAA also has periodic inspections of the production system itself where their personnel look into all aspects of the production system to make sure that the approved system is functioning as it was certified.

Internal Oversight

Boeing provides internal oversight of its production system: Quality Planning is an organization inside Boeing that reviews each job at its time of creation to make sure that all the process specifications, standard work instructions, and correct levels of inspection are applied in a logical manner to the jobs. They also periodically review the production systems job library to make sure no job maintenance changes made have allowed the job to drift off point.

Understanding how many people are involved in the creation of a robust Production System and its surveillance program, we finally get to ask the pointy questions.

Outstanding Questions
  • Are Inspection Escapes occurring more often now than in the past, or is the media more efficient in reporting them?
  • If there are more inspection escapes, is the loss of assembly worker/inspector skill tied to the problem, and to what degree?
  • If we had an inspection escape in a process where two different sets of eyeballs stamped the paperwork saying they saw the work properly executed, what influenced the workers to make their errors at the same time?
  • Looking at the highly configured nature of Boeing’s aircraft, will inspection escapes ever end, or will we just have to accept that good enough will have to be good enough and some level of human error is inevitable?

Boeing to date hasn’t conveyed answers to these questions to the flying community, as far as LNA knows. In fairness to Boeing, Transport Category Commercial Aircraft are very complex. These are highly variable products that have few similarities with any other production system. No other product being made today has near the safety of flight/operation regulation package that aircraft do. Even at that, Boeing must improve this sticky issue, and there are no clear-cut immediate paths forward.

222 Comments on “737 incidents prompt new scrutiny at Boeing

    • Wow! Nasty.
      Can’t be definitive but points a bit more to a systemic problem than a one of. Key is who is doing that.

      Btw – I like the term ‘quality escape’. Nice, more politically correct, neutral, bland way of saying… oops, we messed up because we did not check correctly. I’ll use that in my software business with customers now!

      Spirit at initial assembly? Or workers at BA’s final assembly removing the door for working heat issues / or bringing tools inside. Or both. Or later MROs AMTs like the Alaska WiFi installer job? This is done often. Could be the same company replicating that job cheaply.

      The plug tech seems proven. No design issue.

      • Huh? We’re talking about United found at least five other 737 MAX 9 with loose bolts connecting the plug to the fuselage.

        AS and UA happened to employ the same (incompetent) contractor??

        • ??
          Could be of course. Custom WiFi hardware installation could be a package deal. Done by the same contractor across fleets. You buy my WiFi offering, I’ll ‘do it all’. This is very common. Only a few accredited airborne WiFi vendors.

          It may not be worth (or desirable) training your own AMTs for such one off installation. Only for pure maintenance.

          • AS contractor has denied:
            ‘[…] However, the maintenance contractor, AAR Corp, shared in a statement they “did not perform any work on or near any mid-cabin exit door plug of that specific aircraft.”


            Sigh, unless we have something really solid, no need to go further down this wild goose chase IMO.

        • How did these planes pass the ‘ high blow’ test which I think is normally done at night for all 737,767,777, etc
          Anybody with facts re the ‘ high blow’ pressurization test ?

          • Yeah,I’m wondering about that too.Im assuming that these lapses only affect security and not airtightness.Or was some leakage within tolerance? I am losing confidence that someone didn’t just get bored with trying to chase the problem and just pass it anyway.That seems to be what happened at Alaska

          • I did Pressurization tests on wide body aircraft at boeing (retired now)
            It would have most likely passed testing as it would have only been pressurized one time unless there was an issue and required representation.
            This aircraft had around 150 pressureisation cycles. Someone could have opened the Door (plug) after testing and not reinstalled it properly, there are many sanarios, we will have to wait and see what they find.
            I hear about loose bolts? Im not familiar with this design but standard practice would be to install bolts, torque and safety wire.
            In a side note I’m very saddened at boeing’s Reputation as a premiere aircraft builder tarnished with these problems but I’m not at all surprised. The company needs a Severe shake-up from the top-down in my opinion.

          • SJE:

            Like you I want to see the procedure. Nuts with cotter keys are a different aspect as the torque if any has to be mild or you have the issue with alignment to a hole.

            And as you state, what the history is and who did what with it and when………………….

    • Thanks for that link. Those previous pressurization issues on the aircraft kinda support the loose ‘sonething’ causing a leak… And under so much pressure and perhaps high frequency vibration/movement, there was a failure. I’d assume those fittings are not designed for anything other than ridged holding-in-place.

      I guess the United discovery will filter through the media and be verified (or not) by tomorrow.

      If true… Sad. We rely on quality. In its absence, what do you do? Thankfully it popped at a relatively low altitude. I can’t imagine the upset if it occurred at cruising.

        • TAC: the five MAX 9 were delivered to United between November 2022 and September 2023.

          • From your post, comes the details from Alaska:

            Latest Update: 6:50 p.m. Pacific, Jan. 8
            We continue to wait for final documentation from Boeing and the FAA before we can begin the formal inspection process.

            As our maintenance technicians began preparing our 737-9 MAX fleet for inspections, they accessed the area in question. Initial reports from our technicians indicate some loose hardware was visible on some aircraft.

      • And to Steve J-and otheres – thanks for the response re ‘Hi blow” tests on ALL 737. FWIW a close look at how the ” plug-door-window ” part is installed would suggest that even if bolts were not installed the design is such that the test would NOT displace the door and no obvious leaks. but then (IMHO) a series of landings where things may bounce a bit, and a series of cycles and flexing during normal flights would allow the movement needed to bypass the roller pin restraint/hooks and . . . -.
        So again IMHO its a major failure in Final assembly and inspection before/during interior panel installation.
        Unfortunately the wrong heads will roll

  1. Except that it’s not actually a plug. Ironically it would be safer to have fitted the emergency exit, which is a genuine plug door fitted from the inside thereby held firmly in place during flight by cabin pressure. No risk of blow out.

    • Eol
      Thank you for your clarification. This so called plug door does not appear to offer any more safety than the bayonet doors used on pressurized recips.

      • Yea its a plug in the loosest (pun) sense of the work in that it plugs the hole but it is not a plug with taper from outside getting wider to inside.

        As there are 4 bolts that are a cross safety for the mechanism itself, that brings to the fore, all 4 had to be loose of there would have been structural damage as one or more tore out as the door departed.

        This aircraft had a history of pressuring alarms, lost its ETOPs – I hate to think what happens half way to Hawaii, shades of the High the the Mighty.

        As I look at the mechanism once its released it spring the door up and out. Lovely.

        • TW,
          After I watched the Blancolirio channel, I understand this better. There are six stop pads on each side of the frame, and six stop fittings on each side of the plug. As long as the stop fittings press snugly against the stop pads the plug won’t move. But, as you say, if the four bolts, nuts , and cotter pins are loose or missing, then the plug can move off the stop pads.

    • The emergency exit doors use the same mechanism so they are not a plug type door, only the main cabin doors are plug type.

    • why are the “door plugs” not built the same way? would seem to be both cheaper (common design of much of the framework and mounting hardware) and safer (literally can’t “blow out”)

      • We’re told that the door plug originated with the 757-300, installed first on the 737-900 NG and then on the MAX 9.

        • Is my understanding correct that the
          plug and a “real door” can be swapped in/out
          without major changes to that fuselage area?

          • I heard it would cost a couple million $$ to swap out to type II exits IIRC.

          • I think Capt Chris Brady covers this in his videos, with BA suggesting to airlines that any swap done after FAL is expensive.


  2. How many more different, so-far undetected issues like this one are out there
    on the 737MAX, and possibly other Boing aircraft?

    • I wonder for how much longer can Calhoun stay? Dave has been at the helm for over four years, is he still the best face representing BA to talk about safety culture, etc? I’m not calling for his head, but when would Wall Street/board lose confidence? The problem is who is the right person to step up.

      • 1. Calhoun gets a bazillion dollars to run the company, He certainly takes credit when things go well.

        2. Calhoun’s leadership vision is [still] to restart the share repurchase program. He sees his path to success as cutting costs by repeating Harry Stonecipher’s mantra in hundreds or thousands of instances – “Why are we doing this? Is this something we have to do? What happens if we don’t do this?”

        Answer to the third question: Sometimes the door plug pops off the airplane.

        3. Calhoun is there to retain the shareholder-focus business model. Nothing will change as long as he is running the company.

        • How many issues are out there on Airbus aircraft?

          Frozen Pitots anyone?

          Or lets allow Airlines to run two iffy RR engines based on a computer projection of failure?

          No question this is really bad, but I have seen other issues including on Airbus aircraft that were glossed over and they had years to fix a known issue that required a work around.

      • One plug has blown off despite millions of hours in the air. Not systemic. NG used these too. Plugs are not removed during assembly, main pax and service doors are used. Spirit strikes again looks like.

        • Not a given its Spirit.

          If AK Airlines pulled maint on it looking for a leak then they may be involved. We will have the history fairly soon.

          In the meantime everyone will be looking at their processes (or lack of them)

        • Spirit ships the fuselages with the plug in place but not fully fastened, so the Boeing can use the gap to access the interior for their installations, according to news reports.

        • Boeing final assembly and inspection after hi blow and before interior installation is responsible.

  3. Perhaps some expert could answer the question I posed on another page.
    I would have thought that “pressurisation problems” would be a sign of something potentially very serious and in absence of a good explanation (such a known dodgy door seal or similar)how was the aircraft allowed to carry on operating?

  4. Spirit ships the fuselages with the plug in place but not fully fastened, so the Boeing can use the gap to access the interior for their installations, according to news reports.

    Also, it is fortunate that the plug didn’t damage the tail planes. That would have been much more serious.

    • probably cuz it was in a climb attitude and went over the tailplane( horiz stab )

    • cork in a champagne bottle.
      it didn’t “just fall out”.

      area is 2′ x 5′ ? i.e 24″ x 60″ ~1440 sqi ?
      what was the differential pressure? 2psi ?
      that is 2880lbf working on the plug.
      ( for a 100lb mass plug? !! )

      • Only if it pops out cleanly. If the forward edge catches the wind and the door folds back against the fuselage before leaving the airplane it could be swept straight back.

  5. Another thing that worries me a bit is the logic behind Alaska restricting the MAX9 from ETOPS
    Whether my plane crashes because a loose door hits the tail plane on a short or long flight doesn’t really bother me

    • My thoughts exactly.

      Any time you have repeated pressurization problems its time to find the problem not pass it on.

      An object that size could cearly destroy one side of the Horizontal Stab and then ????????????

      • An adder, why would AK Airlines even make that decision?

        Should not ETOPS rules automatically exclude it?

        • According to NTSB, it was AK in house decision, not mandatory. Looks like that was a good call by AK.

    • “Boeing said it issued a bulletin to all airlines operating the MAX 9 early Monday morning that detailed the required inspections.

      However two airline industry sources, who asked not to be named because the information is closely held, said the airlines did not receive clearance from the FAA that these instructions complied with the emergency directive that grounded the jets from Saturday.

      Later, Boeing told the airlines to expect a revised bulletin, which as of early Monday afternoon had not been delivered to either United or Alaska.

      • @Pedro

        Thank you for this and the info from The Air Current.
        This just goes to show clearly how neither Boeing nor the FAA are teaming/collaborating for a common communication to the operators. Just pathetic!

  6. Good comprehensive report, Leeham, thank you.

    I worked for Boeing in Quality and Aviation safety for a long time. I saw repeatedly problems the operators reported on issues directly traced to piss poor factory work. This has been on going for many years.
    First, Leeham needs to cease with this “quality escape” terminology. Boeing doesn’t have a quality system any longer. You should call them safety escapes.
    The executives mission is to do away with the quality buybacks and they have been accomplishing this for years…. all in the name of reduced costs…

    The loose or missing fasteners on the critical flight controls reported just two weeks ago and now this systemic failure… I say systemic when I just learned UAL reporting several findings.
    My son flys 737’s for UAL… how do you think I feel, but like many of you I fly trips on these same airplanes.
    But a more very important question to be asking is when will the FAA drop the hammer on this company?
    The answer is they won’t! They are in bed with Boeing, nothing, absolutely nothing has changed since the Max disasters from 2019.
    2 years ago the FAA approved a so called SMS program for Boeing.
    SMS is all about critical risk mgmt, how do you think this is working for Boeing on these latest safety escapes? It’s not. This SMS is smoke and mirrors.

    Now on to Alaska. For the record, I worked for ASA for 21 years in maintenance and engineering… so I know what I’m talking about.
    This psi problem started back in December. They removed it from ETOPS for this reason. Would love to see the mx records on what they did when the flight kept getting the ‘auto pressurization fail’ light illuminate.
    When this light illuminates it doesn’t mean they can’t psi the jet, they have to manually do it…. Adds workload for the FO. Obviously mx MEL the auto portion, this is a 10 day MEL. So it’s been reoccurring after supposed fixes. Where was Alaska risk mgmt regarding this issue? SMS risk mgmt is all about when to say no, enough!
    That door back in row 40 had to be making one hell of a whistle before it blew, no doubt to me it was making noise on previous flights as the failed safety started migration out and the door was bulging.
    Mx failed to note this on their walk around? Another failure.

    Seeing the photos and the clean break there’s no question the lack of safety lock nuts with cotter pins were missing.

    Thank God no was hurt or worse no one seated in that row or the news would have been much worse.

    Dr. James Reason Swiss cheese holes lined up perfectly on this incident unfortunately.
    Lastly, I guarantee not one executive at Boeing, including any directors will lose their job. Nothing will change and that’s goes for the FAA.
    Nothing changed after over 300 people died, what makes you think it will now…..

    • Airdoc:

      This is indeed soul chilling. There was a huge luck factor for which the passengers and crew can only be grateful for.

      Shades of the AOA in the Indonesia Air crash, replace it but don’t actually test it.

      As noted above as well, all bolts had to not only be loose but gone to let that spring up and out and depart cleanly. Stunning.

      Its amazing what Airlines are allowed to defer rather than fix.

      In the gun world they call them Negligent Discharges, no more accidents, plain and simple, its a screwup on the operators part.

      In this case call it Negligence period. It did not ex cape, it was driven out of the Prison Yard by the warden.

      I love Calhoun distancing himself, oh I don’t get down on the floor like that other guy did.

      Yea, actually if you go down to the floor and listen to people is amazing what you can learn about how messed up things are. But then you have to want to know and do something about it other than collect your millions for failing to do your job.

      My higher level take is that there is a system problem in the whole industry that needs to be addressed as well as Boeing specific aspects.

      • @TW

        Thank you. I’m convinced Calhoun, the BOD and all the other executives, directors are there to collect a paycheck, ensure they are doing their utmost to follow DEI….
        And shareholder value. Safety and SMS be damned.

        • You are welcome and my interactions with the corporate world agree with yours.

          Those people do not even care. Its all about greed.

    • Boeing needs some serious quality intervention.

      Old saying ” If its not Boeing, I am not going”.

      New saying “If its not going, its Boeing”.

    • ‘My son flys 737’s for UAL… how do you think I feel, but like many of you I fly trips on these same airplanes.’

      I feel for you.

      Can he perhaps bid onto another type? They do have a couple hundred Airbus aircraft…

      • @Frank P

        He actually holds an A320/321 type rating when he worked for Frontier. He likes the Airbus.
        Yes he could bid this, but it probably a different base. Sometimes that can be a big deal even if they can commute.
        I will say this, UAL has always, always had an outstanding Mx operation. Even when I worked at Alaska we held them in high regard. So I rest assured knowing this.

    • That loud snapping sound you hear are posterior covers still snapping in place. After a few more days- expect at least two of the janitorial floor sweeper staff to take ‘ early retirement’- and a terse memo signed by at least 3 executives which say ‘ quality and safety are number one’ ( those who do not believe that- your pink slip is waiting 0

    • Calling them quality escapes is indeed not the best choice of phrase. Safety escape is a more appropriate. One could be justified in going further, calling them life-threatening ****-ups is more attention grabbing.

      And, attention grabbing seems to be the problem; the company management and stock holders seem to have no idea how to be a “safety-critical” manufacturer any more, and seems to have no recognition of that lack of competence. Someone, somewhere needs to knock some heads together very hard indeed, because nothing else seems to be getting messages through mangaement and shareholder skulls.

      If they don’t get the message, don’t agree to take a big slice of pain an pony up for proper company reformation, there’s a good and increasing chance that they’ll lose everything.

      From a geopolitical point of view, the US gov is unlikely to want the nation to exit the airliner business. But it is headed that way. At what point does the US gov decide that the company and its owners are incapable of carrying that flag, and need to be replaced? Will the US gov nationalise Boeing? Will it have to as no one else is left to bail the company out? Who, now, would really want to take on Boeing for the long term? Anybody?

      • SpaceX might take over BCA if asked by the US Government. Lockheed or Northrop is a no-no. Tesla is a no-no due to its own quality problems.
        The FAA delay I think is what extra inspections for loose hardware should be included into the AD/Boeing SB. Just the “plug” inspection for 4 bolts is the easy part.

  7. Some elements of this story point to in house industrial sabotage. Some where at the end of the process intentionally due to motives unknown a crime unfortunately may have taken place. This may be a possibility…

    The checks and balance system in aerospace manufacturing are almost fool proof. At the least this is a bit suspicious.

    • Sure, if your writing a spy thriller to get made into a movie, sounds just like industrial espionage.

      Maybe some deep state individuals have enlisted the help of mechanics who work on the Max 9 interiors on different aircraft, inspectors who sign off on the jobs on different aircraft, mechanics who installed bolts on the tail section, inspectors who signed off on the jobs there, mechanics who drilled holes in Wichita and inspectors who signed off on the work they did, programmers who programmed the MCAS software and the IT guys who approved their work, the person who designed the anti-ice system that they need an exemption for, the person who designed fittings on Max jets where the fuselage meets the vertical section of the tail, those mechanics who left boot covers in fuel tanks…

      …and this is just the Max.

      Darn those deep state, anti-capitalism, freedom hating industrial sabotage bad guys.

      Or maybe….just maybe…the policies that management instituted sacrificed quality, all in the name of profit – and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

      But hey – everyone loves a good conspiracy laden, thriller movie. So…people might have to really stretch their suspension of disbelief to make it work. It just might work – after all, look at how many people believe the earth is flat.

      • Not necessarily espionage related. That would be even more farfetched. Maybe along the lines of the lone wolf type; possibly disgruntled worker. If not this scenario, the lack of oversight on the Max line of planes would be unimaginable with all that has transpired.
        Not tightening these bolts would be a little comparable to an auto worker maybe not securing the motor to the frame. It is really too hard to comprehend. Could that happen in Detroit? I would not think so. That may be another point to an intentional act. But no, I don’t think Hollywood could even imagine a fuselage of a commercial jet in a situation like this.

        • ying/yang

          if your employer hates you
          you complement with disinterest.

          On the other hand there seem to have been
          enough sabotage acts done on those new Airbus aircraft to show that they where obviously no good. Eurotrash.
          Thus intentional is not out of the question.

        • I asked our retired BA engineer about this and I had to wait 5 minutes before he stopped laughing, blew his nose and wiped the tears from his eye.

          Plausible…but very, very unlikely. How does the one disgruntled employee get the second set of eyes to sign off on the job? Do you know how many different people there are working on this aircraft? Does the same guy also attach the tail assembly without bolts?

          As a mechanic, you are assigned jobs by the system, I have been told. Your name is on everything you do. As is the inspectors.

          Could it be one guy sneaking around, taking out bolts and messing things up?

          A Max is assembled in 9 days. It’s moving down the line with things happening in it all the time. It’s not sitting around, waiting for the dark of night when someone with a balaclava sneaks in and removes bolts.

          5 United a/c with loose bolts.
          Alaska has reported more loose bolts.
          The flight itself where no bolts were found.
          Loose/missing bolts in the empennage.


          Let’s try this on for size;

          Company Culture starts at the top. If Management shows that the main thing they are concerned with is money, then this will trickle down into the work force.

          “If you don’t care about the company, why should I? You’re just here to get paid? Then so am I…”

          Rush, rush, rush, faster, faster, faster?

          Sure. Here ya go…garbage in, garbage out.

          • The reality is that there are a series (well supposed to be) of quality control checks in place (see Leehams article per above)
            in place.

            Its not just one failure, its multiple failures.

            Take a deep dive, you cut the fatener so it fails. Right, did you test it? Do you know how it faile?

            So, unless someone climbs onto the wing and pours sugar into the gas tank, its ain’t happening.

            And yes the equivalent happened, sea water got into a system in Indonesia I believe it was. The filters separate water out but not salt. Guess what happened.

            And that was negligence as they did not test the system the way it should have been tested.

          • No matter the circumstances of this situation, they are equally bizarre and incomprehensible.

    • And wouldn’t you know it Sam, the Deep State now has Alaska maintenance on the payroll, too!

      Latest Update: 6:50 p.m. Pacific, Jan. 8
      We continue to wait for final documentation from Boeing and the FAA before we can begin the formal inspection process.

      As our maintenance technicians began preparing our 737-9 MAX fleet for inspections, they accessed the area in question. Initial reports from our technicians indicate some loose hardware was visible on some aircraft.


      Nefarious forces at work!

      • I’m not ruling it out!The other explanation involves ludicrous incompetence from Boeing.
        They really can’t be that bad,can they?

        • I hear you, Grubbie. The simplest explanation that fits all the facts is almost always the correct one.

  8. The problem is that the 737 900 Max and the 737 900 have the same hull with the same door plug. How many 737 900 are flying and are they being inspected?

  9. So,the current hypothesis is that Spirit just temporarily installs the plug knowing that Boeing might wish to remove it and they do the final set up anyway?It would make sense that they don’t want to engage the spring washers and split pins and use loctite etc.Although this doesn’t really explain the variety of lapses. I am struggling to believe that Boeing just forgot to finish the job,you couldn’t make it up.

  10. The National Transportation Safety Board said on Monday it is uncertain if a recovered cabin panel that blew off an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 plane was properly attached or if bolts had been installed.


    The NTSB said it will be able to determine if the bolts had been installed through testing. Earlier Monday, United Airlines and Alaska Air both said they had found loose parts on multiple grounded MAX 9 aircraft, raising new concerns among industry experts about how Boeing’s best-selling jet family is manufactured.

  11. @David Slotnick has a good thread

    -> The cockpit door is designed to open during rapid decompression, it turns out. But no one on the flight or cabin crews knew that. Boeing will make changes to the 737 MAX manual.

    -> No discrepancies found on the installed right aft doorplug today.

    -> The door plug moved upward, and all 12 stops came disengaged. Guide tracks were fractured. They have not recovered the 4 bolts that are supposed to stop the door plug from moving upward.

    -> The plug is held in by the stop fittings, and then locked in by being pushed downward and locked in by the bolts. With the bolts gone, the door can move upward and disengage from the stop fittings, then “fly off” the plane.

    • “The cockpit door is designed to open during rapid decompression”

      Not sure Boeing (or Airbus) is happy that this information is now public.

      • any half assed engineer would assume that functionality.
        ( either the door gives or a blow out panels gives or the pressure will relieve on another undesired path.)
        Same for blow out panels in the floors.

        Not having those was afair an aggravating feature for some accident or other.

      • In case someone is able to open a hole in an aircraft leading to such a rapid decompression then there is a bigger problem than an open door.

    • The starboard plug analysis should help determine if the 4 bolts/nuts and lockpins were ever installed on the port plug. Modern torque wrenches sends info on each bolt torqued. Most car engine manufacturers have them. If one is missing from the assigned nuts to the specific electric/digital torque wrench a warning is generated.

  12. Excellent overview of complex multi-faceted cluster mistake for profit…Wall Street greed..I’ll fly a DC-7…

    • It’s crazy.
      The crew have to pull the circuit breaker to stop the CVR from overwriting itself. This is 21st century. Folks.

    • Obviously the flight crew knows that they have to preserve the evidence after an event such as this,but time after time they fail and face no repercussions.
      Anyone would do the same thing given the chance and it’s arguable that some pilots have saved their careers by ensuring that the tape is written over

      • Consider this:
        Airbus shuts off automatically the CVR with engine shut down.
        But Boeing fleet conformity …

        • The realkity is it should not be an issue.

          While its another aspect the NTSB will beat up the FAA on, rihgtully, making a big deal about the recorder is nonsense.

          What is it going to tell them.

          Oh hey, yea, the door blew off? Uhhh sorority folks, the pilots are up front and there is NO DOOR SENSOR (cause it ain’t a door)

          Even finding the so called plug is not a big deal. You can see what happened from the aircraft side.

          Nice to find it, yes. Nothing (pardon the pun or not) hinges on finding it.

          Its not like it was Beamed away by Space Aliens for crying out loud.

  13. There are so many things that could go wrong on an aircraft that if I’m the FAA, I would be truly worried.

    • Boeing now finds itself in a little bit of a box.

      On a financial website, the rumblings have started:

      “Alaska should have grounded the aircraft”
      “It’s their fault, ignoring the pressure warnings”
      “They used a loophole in the system to keep flying”

      When the whole MCAS thing came out, the default was to blame ‘foreign’ pilots.

      NOW…an accident has occurred with American pilots at the helm and signs pointing, once again, squarely at Boeing (yes, we should reserve final judgement as it’s still early, but this is how it looks at this point in time).

      SO…how does BA approach this? Throw Alaska under the bus, as much as possible? Blame the FAA? Or tread carefully on their own home turf?

    • Quite frankly, we should all be wary of the FAA. Our lawmakers should give the FAA money to get current, ‘cuz as of now they aren’t.

  14. The root problem needs to be addressed. I’m not talking about tightening the loose bolts that
    were found. But, WHY in the first place are there loose bolts. First in the rudder assembly
    and now in the plug door. Is there a bad pneumatic wrench setting, or it functioning improperly?

    The inspection process quite obviously needs attention. Yet another study and report?

    Just last month, the FAA said everything is fine on the loose rudder bolts, before the 737-MAX 900 door
    popped out … (what if it popped out at 35,000 feet rather than 16,000, and someone was sitting in the
    seat closest to the plug? This most recent incident could have been much, much worse)

    FAA return to service 737-MAX report .. supposedly the FAA is in control, so they bear some responsibility.

    How many more reports and recommendations does the FAA have to write about the 737-MAX ODA program?

    Bottom line: How did these bolts on the rudder and door not get tightened properly in the first place?
    And, how did the loose bolts get past the inspection process?

    (personal note: I haven’t been posting in quite a while. I’ve had some major medical issues)

    • I hope you are feeling better R.D.; it’s good to see you and your sensible posts back.


  15. Someone is responsible for installing and securing these bolts, gets paid to do it, and is not doing it. I think that is criminal.

    • This is systemic issue, not an individual performance issue. Please do not blame individual mechanics for ‘missing’ a bolt tightening then they may not have even known about. If there’s anything ‘criminal’ about this it’s at higher levels in the organization.

    • Hey, maybe they’ll issue the kid a permanent free pass for 737-9 flights, just out of kindness.

    • Most interesting, though one can likely guess what will come of it: Nothing.

      TBTF. (that DPA’s a sweet one, no?)

  16. Boeing executives to convene all-hands safety meeting at its 737 Max factory after yet another crisis


    The company-wide “Safety Webcast” will be hosted by CEO Dave Calhoun and other Boeing senior leaders from the company’s Renton, Washington, factory, where it produces 737 Max jets.


    “Beating will continue, until morale (and quality of work) improves”

    – Dave the Whipper

    • It’d be interesting to know how that goes.

      From what I’ve heard, the root cause of all of Boeing’s problems lie in the management domain; the cut-backs in QC/QA, the choice to keep making a 1960 design + decades of design bodges in a failed attempt to update it, the hire/fire culture that has denuded the company of expertise, the financial pressure on fixing all these issues arising from a stagnated product strategy, a failure to understand and react to their true market position (i.e. reducing market share) whilst hiding behind increased profits arising only from market growth, the emphasis on short term shareholder value above all other considerations leaving the the company short of development (product and staff) money, etc.

      Standing up in front of the workforce to emplore them to make the planes properly is something that may need to be said, but if said in isolation it wouldn’t really be addressing the whole problem.

  17. Thanks, Scott and team. I think it would be very helpful for you and team to do a detailed article on aircraft post production manufacturer (BA) checks, including flight testing (is there just one test flight, up to thirty thousand “plus” for ten or twenty minutes, and down, in an hour or less). Also, what’s the end stage customer acceptance protocol(s)? Do their pilots do a separate “check” flight before acceptance? What’s their maintenance personnel’s involvement at the manufacturer’s, and/or at “home base”? Or, maybe, it could better fit as a Bjorn series? Sincerely, MO

    • But it is worth noting that Delta will start to add MAXes in the Model -10 in a relatively short time. Since it looks like they won’t seat over 190 passengers, these planes could also be delivered with exit plugs.

      • Yah…about that.

        You really think that the FAA is giving priority to getting the Max 7 certified today? Forget about the Max 10…see you in 2025.

        “Hi. This is Boeing. We were wondering how things are going with our Max 7 certification and how the request for the anti-ice heat thing is coming along?”

        (at the other end of the line, in the FAA HQ)

        • 2025 for the MADMAX-10? I don’ think so.. and that’s assuming there is not another MAXaccident in the meantime.

    • Delta needs to cancel that -10 order ASAP and get with Airbus for fleet replacement

      • This would take significant dent in their fleet due to the wait times.

          • Good question. I heard Dave threatened to cancel it not that long ago. 😂

          • It’s a matter of will. With about a 1000 ordered, they are already counting on the accounts receivable. This is now and has been for a couple of decades a business based on Wall Street principles trumping sound engineering principles. I always thought I could fly on a MAX post MCAS. Not sure now, let alone and airline that restricts flights over land knowing it has a plane with a major problem. Did they follow Boeing protocol and keep this data from the flight crew?

          • “I always thought I could fly on a MAX post MCAS.”

            It is the fount that keeps on giving.

            Will this fount be limited to 737 and 787 or will it wash out to the remaining portfolio?

    • Seems not many here are aware of this:

      “Certain models of Airbus jetliners also feature door plugs, but the European planemaker uses a different design”

  18. A couple of questions.

    1. Are the airlines (at least the US operators) required to report their checks on the aircraft of any findings of loose bolts to the FAA at this moment?

    2. Is Boeing required to recheck and report the same with aircraft that are already past all QC but not yet delivered to the customer?

    • Did Boeing, initially – not know how the procedures for inspection worked, on it’s own aircraft that it makes?

      • Wisemen at BCA wrote instructions without hands-on experience??
        It’s so bizarre.

        Remember what happened immediately after the first MAX crash? BA wanted to quietly update its software in a scheduled rollout in order to avoid letting out the existence of MCAS.

        • Why not NG with exactly the same panel?
          Why (initially) did they exclude 9MAX that had been through maintenance?
          Seems like they know something they aren’t telling us

          • Could it be that most NG’s have gone through a heavy maintenance cycle and have had hands and eyes other than BA working on the plane?

          • The incident happened to a new aircraft fresh from the factory instead of one in use for almost two decades. What’s the logical explanation??

    • @Randall: If seating capacity is about a certain number (200?) the emergency exit must be activated. Below that, it’s not needed and it’s plugged.

        • As I recall very recently reading, if you exceed 189 seats, the plug needs to be “pulled”, and replaced with two more emergency exit doors (one on each side, like the over wing exit doors). I think you also wind up needing another flight attendant also.

  19. I’d have thought that, given how the fuselages are shipped by train (i.e. they’re in an uncontrolled, who-knows-who-has-got-to-them environment), the responsiblity for ensuring that any fastners installed by Spirit are still up to spec lies with Boeing. Or at the very least, it’d be an excellent idea if Boeing checked them after the journey, just to be sure.

    • I’m guessing that sprit deliberately doesn’t finish the job,partly because it’s Boeings job and to avoid unnecessary wear from tightening up spring washers split pins etc from doing it twice

    • I’m thinking that the omission of 4 retention bolts didn’t actually cause the door departure and the springs had been enough to do the job (at least temporarily)The hinge bracket becoming detached is probably what allowed wind to get behind the panel and rip it off?

        • I my understanding the springs push the lugs up into the guides at the top of the panel .So you have to remove the famous 4 pinned bolts (if they are even fitted!) push down against the springs to get the lugs out of the guides and enable the panel to lift. Lugs seem to have been left behind in the guides as has one of the brackets at the bottom

        • I’m wrong, didn’t realise that guides were on the panel side.The pins are on the aircraft side and are badly bent and apparently the guides are fractured. I am struggling to see what was opposing the springs and why the panel didn’t eject itself earlier. The scary thing is that it doesn’t seem to be just one repeated mistake,more like a collection of random ones

    • Reassuring. Why, exactly, would the *bolts* be in place but not tightened?

      • If what I’ve been seeing on YouTube—and in print—is correct, Spirit Aero ”loosely” tightens them in their Wichita factory, so Boeing can load seats, etc. “finishing” the interior cabin in Renton.

    • I wonder if it’s all 4 bolts they are finding loose, or just one or two bolts on a door, or are the loose bolts, found in sequentially built aircraft, or ones built on Mondays, or any other factors that might lead to the reason the bolts are loose. It looks like there is a locking pin with these bolts, so that once tightened, they are pinned, so that they can’t loosen. I’m sure these bolts are going to be microscoped, vibrated, heated, cooled and tested quite a bit. Along with everyone that ever comes close to touching them, questioned, paperwork verified etc. I remember a mechanic replacing a window panel on a cockpit, who gathered up the wrong size screws, to tighen down the
      windshield. They almost were correct, but, not quite.

  20. Dave the clown Calhou/executives decided they needed to do an all hands meeting today in the Renton factory:


    The first mistake they need to acknowledge is hiring Dave Calhoun! 😳
    Will the BOD fire him as they did Muleinberg?

    The beatings will continue until morale improves.
    Nothing…. Absolutely nothing, will change at Boeing and the same for the FAA

  21. In case anyone was wondering the role Spirit has to play in this, Reuter had this to report:


    As part of the production process, Spirit builds fuselages for 737s and sends them by train with the special door assembly “semi-rigged,” one of the people said.

    “They are fitted but not completed,” the person said.

    At its Renton, Washington, plant, Boeing typically removes the pop-out, or non-functioning, door and uses the gap to load interiors. Then, the part is put back and the installation in completed. Finally, the hull is pressurized to 150% to make sure everything is working correctly, the person said.

    The process means that finding out where any flaw was introduced during assembly may not be clear-cut, said the sources, who asked not to be named as details of the probe are confidential.

    • Frank P:

      I am having a hard time fathoming they pull a door on some aircraft and can’t on others as there is no door and you have different process to deal with.

      It may be true but it seems to lack sense of efficient production.

      • The fuselage incl. the door frame in that place is identical on all frames produced.

        Then either a functional exit is installed or a “nondoor” with the same mechanical (retaining) interface as a fixed closure. either you can open with some release mechanism aka Door Handle or it is screwed down against accidental opening.

        it is not a plug like those that replace windows on a freighter.

      • Commercial aircraft are practically “tailor-made” for customers. Is it news??

        • That’s what killed Douglas, wasn’t it?

          … and was an issue with the A380 : too much individualization.

          on the airframe level it seems to go towards “one size fits all”. you can have individual bling though 🙂

  22. Preparing Ye Olde “It was Nobody’s Fault, Really, and we’ll all Strive to Do Better” defense already.

    Must.. keep.. DPA in place..


    • If Boeing removes the assembly for any reason, they are responsible for its complete re-instillation.

      The same would be true of an Airline.

      • Boeing is responsible. Period!

        Their name is on the side the jet and PC700, not Spirit Aerospace.

        • Airdoc:

          Yes Boeing is responsible.

          That is not the point. Its where the mess occurred.

          If its Spirit then its another issue of failure of whatever system is supposed to be in place that makes it compliant with the mfg certificate (where Boeing has the ultimate responsibility)

          Or was it at Boeing factory and a failure in the factory?

          It does not seem like Alaska Airlines maint did this but that too is a consideration.

          Clearly Alaska Airlines failed to deal with the issue when they had the indicators there was one.

          You don’t want to sweep under the rug the other problems revealed.

          Per Juan Brown, you could have dispatched that Aircraft on ETOPs legally. In theory it could still make Hawaii (or US) at worst pontoon flying at 10,000 feet.

          The problem is that its an added KNOWN risk, and that should never occur on the MEL, let alone the ETOPs MEL.

          What the blazes is the point in having backup systems if you use them as operation la systems ?

          There is a logic bust here that is part of the bigger picture of Go Itis that needs to be addressed.

          As well as cockpit recorders. With what went on pilots are supposed to remember to pull obscure CB when they have been wind lashed and pummeled and ever thing sucked out of the cockpit?

          But its still and issue that is far past due to be addressed.

  23. I`m afraid it`s a Boeing problem, whoever caused it. If it`s spirit or a bolt manufacturer or someone else – but Boeing is the OEM.

    And it`s again a topic of quality management and control – something that stays with Boeing since a good 20 years now.

    If i compare how Volkswagen was treated by US justice after Dieselgate and BP after Blackwater Horizon there`s one conclusion for me.
    They let Boeing get away to cheap, without forcing fundamental change in the organization and culture.

    It`s just that Boeing is insanely lucky – the B787 battery fires burned on the ground, not over the ocean.
    The Max went down in Indonesia and Ethiopia – 2nd or 3rd world countries. If they went down in the USA, Boeing would not exist in it`s today form anymore.
    And the door panel that blew out, did blew in climb, when everyone was seated and belted, with the row next to it empty.

    The Max is only one crash away from it`s end, and Boeing was lucky this wasn`t it.

    • No chance!This juggernaut is far too big to stop.It’s almost like if they suddenly found out that mobile phones cause cancer,it’s just too big.
      An interesting story I read somewhere,as part of Boeings “punishment “for the the MAX disaster,they got away with a”deferred punishment “.This seems to be basically just like probation for a person and obviously designed to let them off. Interesting part is that this period of 2 years ended the day after the door panel departed from the MAX 9.Im not expecting anything to happen

    • The fuselages are not painted at Spirit, so presumably the plug doors have to be removed at Boeing for painting, and then refitted after painting, so it’s hard to see how Spirit ca bear any of the blame.

      • I don’t follow the logic. Why can’t you paint that exit in place?

        They may remove it but its equally odd statements about removing it for access when other -9s do not have it nor the -8s and they don’t get access.

        I await the NTSB report that says what happened when and where and why it was done that way.

    • Sash:

      I have yet to see any penalty stop a corporation from doing bad things for money sake (or perceived as such).

      Cummins engine was caught with a cheat scheme some years back along with Cat, Volvo and maybe a couple other big engine mfgs.

      They just got hit with 2 billion penalty for cheating on diesels again.

      Equally ironic they made 10s of millions on Navistar who insisted their emissions system was magic and worked and had to go to Cummins for emissions equipment and engines.

      One of the problems is that Corporation shield execs from charges and Corporations keep paying excels obscene amounts of money regardless of performance.

  24. The FAA can mandate a fine comb and nut torque check of the whole aircraft with cleaning of debris from assembly left behind. Once they get the data from the 737-9’s they can decide if the -8 shall get the same check/cleaning.

    • Are there actually plugged doors to be found on MAX8 ? ( not emergency exits )

      • Not really IIRC. The thing is, what else *could* be wrong? Can Dave/Stan come clean? Probably not.

        • AFIK t ALL he normal entry-exit doors are plug design on all 707-thrsu 787 Boeing and equivalent Airsbus commercial

      • Unfortunately the use of the word ” plug” or “plugged has evolved into confusion and for ‘ Boeing-Airbus- and others has added to the confusion I’ll try to explain

        A_ normal entry and exit doors and older emergency “window” extra wide row exits use a design which has a tapered plug such that cabin pressure holds in in place, the higher pressure holds it tighter and better sealing. To open or remove such a door/exit requires some sort of rotation /twisting, pull in- twist- and then openor get thrown out. These are truly “plug “doors

        B some newer emergency doors open out and are held in place by latches jhooks etc which require lifting door to clear stops and may be spring loaded to open up liked an old 30o SL mercedes. These are NOT ” plug ” doors

        C- unfortunately- exit doors that are built in as an option and nor commonly used but have the framework and some of the latches as a real door have been described as ” plugged “- and from the inside by design are virtually impossible for 99 percent of flying public to identify or even be aware of. A close look from outside-
        depending on paint job, etc might identify these ‘ plugged ‘ doors- but again IMHO very few of the flying public have the chance or known what the ‘tell’ would be re panel joints and ‘rivets.

        These Emergency exit “plugs” are NOT plugs as described in A above.
        And NONE of the exits-doors-windows are considered ” structural ‘ in that forgetting the wind issues- the plane could fly without them but with messed up drag issues
        Corrections to above welcome
        I’m sure someone could put some simplified design details/drawings to good use by posting here and in media

        • yeah, “plug” can be understood in a misleading way. ( but the other use is “plugtype” …)

          I had the duality of the same frame on a fuselage taking either a “real, functional (emergency) door” or a blind plug for closing the opening but not using for egress ever.

        • Agreed its taken out of context.

          You can have a pipe plug, you are plugging a hole in a positive way.

          Exit Frame would be a better term.

          Don’t put the bolts in and you have a door pogo stick.

  25. Hey just days/weeks ago, many’s main concern is how many orders BA “won”. A wrong emphasis can drive a company down a wrong path to a point of no return.

  26. The Max improvement program in 6 steps
    Enthusiasm – I’m in charge here
    Disillusionment- but but but
    Panic- stock price drop
    Search for the guilty- everywhere but the corporate offices
    Punishment of the innocent- Janitor did it
    Praise and honors for the non-participants-Bored of Directionless

    Harry Stonecipher, 2004, former CEO of The Boeing Company, reflecting on the late 1990
    “When I say I changed the culture of Boeing, that was the intent, so it’s run like a business rather than a great engineering firm. It is a great engineering firm, but people invest in a company because they want to make money.”

    July 25  2014
    Boeing’s McNerney apologizes for remark about ‘cowering’ workers
    Boeing CEO Jim McNerney apologized Friday in a companywide message for telling analysts that he won’t retire after turning 65 next month because
    “the heart will still be beating, the employees will still be cowering. ”

    AKA the Neutron Jack Welch virus- McDonnel Douglas variant.

    The cure- go back and study and REALLY implement Deming principles for quality control.
    W. Edwards Deming’s 14 Points

    Create constancy of purpose for improving products and services.
    Adopt the new philosophy.
    Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality.
    End the practice of awarding business on price alone; instead, minimize total cost by working with a single supplier.
    Improve constantly and forever every process for planning, production and service.
    Institute training on the job.
    Adopt and institute leadership.
    Drive out fear.
    Break down barriers between staff areas.
    Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the workforce.
    Eliminate numerical quotas for the workforce and numerical goals for management.
    Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship, and eliminate the annual rating or merit system.
    Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement for everyone.
    Put everybody in the company to work accomplishing the transformation

    Instead of the “who he ” response.

    • The success of a failing business:

      -> McDonnell’s stock price had risen fourfold under Stonecipher as he went on a cost-cutting tear (but many feared that this came at the cost of the company’s future competitiveness).

  27. -> Alaska Air update:

    “…we have made the decision to cancel all flights on 737-9 MAX aircraft through Saturday, Jan. 13 while we conduct inspections and prepare fully for return to service. This equates to between 110-150 flights per day.”

    Still awaiting instructions from Boeing

    -> This so very quickly went from “nbd some MAX 9 were already inspected and others will take just hours” to “this grounding is lasting day an undetermined duration.”


      • IMU:
        door or nondoor are retained by 12 interlocking “thingies”. (see the drawing top of article ) 4 bolts keep the nondoor in a position that keeps the interlocking thingies interlocked.
        ( in the door case the hold/release/doorhandle mechanism achieves the same until released.)

        • Nothing interlocking about those thingies as once the bolts are released they do nothing.

          The Exit is then free to eject (assuming in flight, otherwise the wimpy straps hold it in place)

          It comes down to the 4 bolts, nuts and cotter key (I never thought I would see something on a commercial aircraft held in place by a cotter key, often critical bolts have a wire attached to them.)

          Those thingies are nothing more than guides in the case of the exit hatch.

          I am far less concerned about some nit picking on de-ice equipment.

          That does not even cover the trim wheel you can’t turn under certain loading conditions when you need to the most.

          • “Those thingies are nothing more than guides in the case of the exit hatch.”

            You are rather consistent in being wrong.

            You have to lift the door for release.
            ( to compensate for weight see the springs in the lower part ( where the 2 lower bolts are inserted.

      • I wonder if it’s also about loose screws etc. See the tweet I posted above from @ByERussell (The first one I posted).

  28. Can we draw a lesson here?? 🤔

    Palace intrigue

    “The abrupt dismissal of commercial airplanes CEO Kevin McAllister in October [2019] — who had been on the front line of customer relations with the 737 Max grounded — was seen by customers and suppliers as a move to insulate Muilenburg, who was more-visibly under siege.”

    “McAllister’s firing also exacerbated the rift with the apparent enthusiasm of Chicago to place the blame on Seattle for what had befallen the company and its relationships with airlines, lessors and regulators.”


  29. Here’s an article I had not seen before. It’s from The Lever, and is up on the DemocracyNow website. It goes into detail about how Spirit AeroSystems employees were raising red flags but management was more concerned with getting “product” out the door. It mentions how the men at Boeing love to subcontract work because it makes oversight much harder. Airplane fuselages are product, dirt is product, our different foods are product. I think it is an MBA term that allows the same procedures to apply in any situation so the product can generate wealth as quickly as possible with little regard for the intangibles like safety, pollution.,… etc.


    • Sam W:

      Spirit is part of it, Boeing is a bigger part.

      Sooner or latter corner cutting comes home to roost.

      How high a price passengers and crew pay is the crime that is not charged.

  30. Laugh of the day, this is from the New York Times

    “Now Calhoun’s confident talk of straightening things out rings hollow. Jason Gursky, who follows Boeing for Citi, told me he’s seen emails from angry shareholders calling for Calhoun to resign.”

    Kind of like, well yea, a pipe by definition is hollow, otherwise its a rod.

    You just got to admire the crocodile tears and acting job. He gives Burt Reynolds a run for your money.

    • ‘He gives Burt Reynolds a run for your money.’

      Burt Reynolds cried in a movie? Certainly not Smokey and the Bandit. Hooper? Longest Yard? Cannonball Rn? Deliverance? (oh, that was Ned Beatty)

      But I do remember that laugh…

      “Mwah, Mwah, Mwah, Mwah…”

  31. Wow, 201 comments on this article, and I’ll add another one! It’s related, but “distantly”. Re: the Max 7, while the timings admittedly not great, how about a three month or so route-proving on Southwest’s routes? Run one or two “7”s ten to twelve hours a day, and really “thrash out” that they’re “good to go”, and ready for “certing”. I think this is what BA plans to do later this year with Emirates on the 777X. Thoughts on this?

    • The Max 9 grounding thing? The guys who have this in their financials:

      Commercial aircraft programs inventory included amounts credited in cash or other consideration (early issue sales consideration) to airline customers totaling $3,862 and $3,586 at September 30, 2023 and December 31, 2022

    • NO the ‘ 3 month route proving comment ‘- lets not forget that the two or three of the first 777 did similar by Boeing such that ‘ETOPS’ out of the Box ‘ was a reality…
      ” As well as being Boeing’s first fly-by-wire aircraft, the 777 was the first that came with an ETOPS 180-minute certification ‘out of the box’, enabling United to operate a twin-engine jet on pacific routes for the first time.”
      But that was then – before the Jack welch-Stonecipher- McDummy- virus infection/plague in the executive suite.

      • Looking back from today and the knowledge that the FAA stamp was quite often worthless:

        Even back then FAA was a Boeing department?

      • My main point is three months of “hard” (10 to 12 hours per day route-proving flying) should fully “prove out” the underlying Max 7 design, along with the mountain of paperwork already submitted to the FAA. And, it would show BA taking some action, along with helping BA relations with a crucial customer (SW). Now, BA quality control during and after production, well that’s another matter needing addressing—ASAP!

    • BA should, of course. It would be part of the ir Max 7 cert process. And, SW has ordered quite a few Max 7s!

  32. Has anyone heard any more of the missing rudder control nut and loose rudder control bolt issue from a foreign 737 MAX operator that prompted the FAA bulletin 2 weeks ago? This didn’t cause an accident or incident thank goodness, but, loosing control of a rudder is something a Pilot doesn’t want to have happen.
    I’d assume that they’d have some numbers available by now, if any other loose or missing rudder control system nuts/bolts were found.
    Has anyone heard of any results of the rudder control inspections.

    • “missing rudder control nut and loose rudder control bolt ..”

      They are missing, right!?

  33. CNBC questions the viability of Calhoun


    A career ‘death watch’ for Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun is not the answer, says Eric Dezenhall


    Interesting point made during the interview:


    “On Kayak, a travel booking site, they now have a search option where you can choose the type of aircraft, you book on. You can exclude those planes, if you want…”

    • heavy rotation mantra:
      “passengers don’t know and don’t care what type they fly on”

      • Along with some (ahem, looking at you, many Priceline customers) seeking “rock bottom” pricing!

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