The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report on the Alaska Airlines plane incident last month revealed that four bolts securing a panel were removed and appear not to have been replaced at Boeing’s factory in Renton, Wash. This led to the panel, known as a door plug, detaching shortly after the flight took off. The report raised questions about Boeing’s commitment to improving safety after the 2018 and 2019 crashes, and the subsequent investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found that the door plug was troubled not long after arriving at Boeing’s factory.
The photograph of the door plug taken after the reinstallation at Boeing’s factory shows that three of the four bolts appear to be missing, and the fourth bolt is covered with insulation. The report intensifies scrutiny on Boeing’s commitment to improving the safety and quality of its aircraft, especially in the aftermath of previous crashes of 737 Max 8 planes in 2018 and 2019. The incident forced the Federal Aviation Administration to ground some Max 9 jets, leading to disruptions in flight operations for several U.S. carriers.
Boeing has been at the center of investigations into the incident and its broader production practices, with the ripple effects already having significant financial and reputational consequences for the company. Boeing is now under intense pressure from regulators, airlines, and the public to address the issues and shortcomings identified in the preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board. The incident raises concerns about Boeing’s ability to deliver on time, as airline executives have criticized the company publicly and expressed doubt about the timely delivery of ordered airplanes.