Mid-flight Panel Detachment Due to Absence of Bolts

Mid-flight Panel Detachment Due to Absence of Bolts

A Boeing 737 Max 9 plane, belonging to Alaska Airlines, was forced to make an emergency landing due to the wall panel of the plane detaching mid-flight.

In a surprising turn of events, it was found that the Boeing 737 Max 9 airplane was missing the integral bolts that were responsible for keeping the wall panel securely attached to the body of the plane.

On January 6, an Alaska Airlines flight, operated by a Boeing 737 Max 9, had to execute an emergency landing in Oregon. The wall panel of the airplane unexpectedly detached mid-flight, causing a pressurization problem. Despite the abrupt emergency landing, the passengers on board were unharmed.

The detached door panel, weighing 27 kilograms, was located on the left wall of the cabin. This panel concealed a reserve area that Boeing had designed for an emergency exit. The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) notes that typically, four bolts would secure such a panel in place.

These preliminary findings were part of the NTSB’s report, as reported by AP, among other news outlets.

The NTSB further noted that the detached door panel showed no signs of having any bolts in place when the plane took off from Portland, Oregon. Consequently, there was nothing to prevent the panel from sliding out of place and detaching from the plane’s body.

According to the NTSB, there was no indication of damage to the detached door panel, such as traces of failed bolts, that could explain the detachment. This suggests that it’s more likely that the panel didn’t have any bolts in place at all.

Upon the plane’s arrival at the Boeing factory near Seattle, Boeing workers found five damaged rivets around the door. They replaced these damaged rivets, a process which also necessitated the removal of the bolts, as reported by the NTSB and according to the AP.