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Bolts Missing from Alaska 737 MAX 9’s Door Plug: NTSB

The NTSB has issued its preliminary report into the door plug failure on Alaska flight 1282 last month.

Missing door plug after a January incident involving Alaska flight 1282 (Photo: NTSB)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued the preliminary report on Alaska Airlines flight 1282, the Boeing 737 MAX 9 that had a door plug blow out in early January. The report includes the basic information the NTSB has collected over the past few weeks, encompassing information from basic aircraft inspections, crew interviews, ADS-B data, and more.

Preliminary reports include the basic information that the NTSB has found regarding an accident. Such information includes a timeline of events and the key facts investigators have confirmed. They do not include what the agency determines to be the accident’s probable cause, nor do they include safety recommendations.

NTSB Report Details

This particular report is 19 pages long. It includes information such as the qualifications and experience of the pilots on board; the order of events as determined by crew interviews, and ATC audio; descriptions and diagrams of the plug door; descriptions of the cabin pressurization system; and photos of the cabin and plug door components.

There is also information on manufacturing records and human performance in the manufacturing process as well as the process for reporting manufacturing discrepancies at Boeing. The review concludes with the safety actions Alaska Airlines took to ensure the safety of its 737 MAX fleet.

Crucially notable, the NTSB has determined that the four bolts holding the plug door in place were completely missing at the time of the incident. While both Alaska and United found loose bolts on similar aircraft, this is the first confirmation that the bolts missing from the airframe in question.

The NTSB’s next step is a more thorough investigation of the incident. The NTSB must eliminate every potential explanation for this occurrence until they determine the accident’s most probable cause. While the investigation will focus greatly on Boeing’s final assembly of the aircraft, especially the Boeing mechanics who reinstalled the plug door in Renton, the NTSB will also pursue other potential explanations to make sure there are no other contributing factors that must be taken into account.

FAA Oversight of Boeing

While the investigation is ongoing, the FAA says it will continue to closely monitor Boeing and its quality control. Additional inspectors have been deployed to Boeing’s final assembly plants to oversee the company’s 737 MAX production process firsthand.

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker will appear before the aviation subcommittee in the US House of Representatives, his first congressional testimony since being confirmed to the post a little more than three months ago, to describe the FAA’s actions to monitor Boeing more closely. The FAA told reporters it is developing a plan for “re-imagined oversight” of Boeing.

“Going forward, we will have more boots on the ground closely scrutinizing and monitoring production and manufacturing activities,” Whitaker will say in prepared remarks shared with CNN.

“Boeing employees are encouraged to use our FAA hotline to report any safety concerns,” Whitaker will tell lawmakers. “And we will consider the full extent of our enforcement authority to ensure Boeing is held accountable for any non-compliance.”

John McDermott


  • John McDermott

    John McDermott is a student at Northwestern University. He is also a student pilot with hopes of flying for the airlines. A self-proclaimed "avgeek," John will rave about aviation at length to whoever will listen, and he is keen to call out any airplane he sees, whether or not anyone around him cares about flying at all. John previously worked as a Journalist and Editor-In-Chief at Aeronautics Online Aviation News and Media. In his spare time, John enjoys running, photography, and watching planes approach Chicago O'Hare from over Lake Michigan.

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