A look at Alaska Airlines’ inspection process for Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft
Weeks laterFor one of its Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft mid-flight, Alaska Airlines has begun doing just that For service after examining each one. The airline recently gave “CBS Mornings” an exclusive, up-close look at the effort to return the planes to service as mechanics evaluate the planes’ door panels and the bolts that hold them in place. Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the incident on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, and the Federal Aviation Administration is conducting At Boeing.
Alaska Airlines preemptively grounded its 65 Max 9 aircraft ahead of the FAA orderA Boeing 737 MAX 9 after an Alaska Airlines plane suffered an explosion during a flight from Oregon to California. The FAA said at the time that one of the plane’s doors separated while the plane was in the air on January 5, forcing it to make an emergency landing in Portland and prompting “immediate inspections of certain Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft.”
At a maintenance facility in Seattle, inspectors are checking the effectiveness of door seals on Alaska Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes. The process of inspecting a single door panel takes about 12 hours, and first requires removing two rows of seats, as well as all of the interior of the cabin, just to get to it. Mechanics check that the four main bolts lining the door panel are secure and working properly.
But their initial inspection is followed by 20 pages of measurements that must be made before that plug is deemed safe and the aircraft is returned to service.
“I would personally fly by the door plug and put my kids in there myself and fly with me, after they pass those inspections,” said Jason Lay, Alaska Airlines’ managing director of engineering. Lai supervises the airline’s engineering team and they work around the clock.
“You check all the hardware, make sure it’s in place, make sure all the hardware is tight,” Lai explained of the inspection process. “We found some loose screws and need to document them,” he added.
The team found loose screws “more than we would like,” Lai said, noting that mechanics reported quite a few planes with this particular problem while inspecting the door panels on the Boeing 737 MAX 9. Inspectors did not identify any planes where screws were missing. He told CBS News.
Investigators are still working to determine whether those key bolts were in place when the door panel of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 exploded, but that airline and United have begun putting Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes back into the air with service properly resuming. clearance. Alaska Airlines is returning up to 10 planes per day as inspections are completed.
Inspection efforts are being followed up by the airline’s network operations center, with the aim of completing the inspection work this week.
“We had to make sure we had a safe and compliant route to operate these aircraft. So, we took it very slow and steady,” said Captain Brett Peyton, Alaska Airlines’ managing director of network operations. “But we have to make sure we do the safety thing first.”