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FAA expands probe into how Boeing makes aircraft after mid-air door blowout

Click to play video: 'Boeing’s mid-air panel blowout has ‘shaken trust’ of travellers'
Boeing’s mid-air panel blowout has ‘shaken trust’ of travellers
WATCH ABOVE: Boeing's mid-air panel blowout has 'shaken trust' of travellers – Jan 13, 2024

The U.S. agency responsible for air safety is ramping up pressure on Boeing, announcing Wednesday that it is investigating how the manufacturer makes its planes and how it secures parts.

The industrial titan has been under scrutiny following a door panel blowing off an Alaska Airlines plane mid-flight, roughly 5,000 metres in the air, earlier this month.

In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it is bolstering oversight and examining potential system change by looking at the manufacturing practices and production lines for Boeing and for Spirit AeroSystems, the subcontractor that made the plane fuselage which the door blew off.

The FAA was already investigating whether Boeing met approved design and maintenance standards and ordered all 171 737-9 MAX planes grounded for inspection.

“The safety of the flying public, not speed, will determine the timeline for returning these aircraft to service,” the FAA stated on Wednesday.

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It said the aircraft will remain grounded until it approves a new inspection and maintenance process for the planes, which it will require operators to use going forward before flights.

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On Jan. 5., Alaska Airlines flight 1282 took off from Portland International Airport in Oregon. It was roughly 5,000 metres in the air when a panel covering an unused emergency exit door blew off, causing oxygen masks to drop and a child’s clothing to reportedly be sucked out of the plane

Click to play video: 'U.S. FAA launches investigation into Boeing after Alaska Airlines door blows off in-flight'
U.S. FAA launches investigation into Boeing after Alaska Airlines door blows off in-flight

It landed safely 20 minutes later and the 174 passengers and six crew members weren’t hurt.

Alaska Airlines had already restricted the aircraft from long flights over water after a warning light that could have indicated pressurization problems had lit up on three different previous flights, a federal official revealed after the incident.

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United Airlines, which operates 79 MAX 9s, has since said it found loose bolts and other installation issues with the planes.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun admitted to the company making mistakes and vowed similar incidents can “never happen again.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

— with files from Craig Lord, Eric Stober, Aaron D’Andrea and The Associated Press’s Claire Rush and David Koenig

 

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