Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun revealed in an interview with CNBC that the Alaska Airlines incident, where a door plug blew off mid-flight, was caused by a “quality escape.” Calhoun defined this as issues found in inspections that could potentially contribute to an accident. The company is now investigating what was missed in the inspection process and what breakdowns occurred in the original work that allowed for this “escape” to happen. The incident led to the grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 9 jets with a door plug by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 had to return to Portland International Airport after a door plug covering a deactivated emergency exit blew off during the flight. Subsequent inspections by United Airlines revealed loose bolts in its Boeing 737 Max 9 airplanes. Boeing, in response, announced revisions to its inspection instructions for operators. The National Transportation Safety Board found that four bolts securing the door plug were unaccounted for, and investigators are unsure whether they were lost or never installed. Further testing is needed to determine the precise cause of the blowout.
Addressing Boeing employees, Calhoun acknowledged the mistake, stating, “We’re going to approach this, number one, acknowledging our mistake.” Boeing is in close contact with customers and the FAA regarding required inspections, making updates based on feedback and requirements. Alaska Airlines has canceled all flights on its 737 Max 9 planes through Saturday, amounting to up to 150 flights per day, awaiting documentation from Boeing and the FAA to begin inspections. The FAA emphasized that the safety of the flying public, not speed, will determine the timeline for returning the Boeing 737-9 Max to service.