Bolts were missing on the Boeing 737 MAX in last month’s Alaska Airlines accident, NTSB finds

Title: Missing Bolts in Alaska Airlines Jet: A Closer Look at the NTSB Investigation


In a shocking revelation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) confirmed that four bolts securing a piece of the fuselage were missing from an Alaska Airlines jet that experienced midair decompression during a flight last month. The incident has once again raised concerns regarding the safety and quality control processes of Boeing, the manufacturer of the aircraft. This article provides an in-depth analysis of the NTSB investigation and its implications for the aviation industry.


The missing bolts were found on a “door plug” located on the fuselage of certain 737 MAX 9 aircraft. These bolts were not present on the newly delivered jet and appeared to have been removed by Boeing during the final assembly process. The door plug, initially installed by Spirit AeroSystems, had to be removed by Boeing to address certain defects in the fuselage. However, it seems that the bolts were not replaced during the repair process.

The Incident

During the flight, the plug fell away from the plane, causing rapid decompression of the pressurized cabin. The flight deck door opened, resulting in disruption for the pilots and passengers. Fortunately, the seats adjacent to the door plug were unoccupied, averting potential injuries or fatalities.

Implications for Aviation Safety

The missing bolts raise concerns about the overall safety and quality control measures in the aviation industry. The incident highlights the need for stringent monitoring and inspection procedures to ensure the proper installation and maintenance of crucial components in aircraft.

Grounding of 737 MAX 9 Fleet

Following the incident, Alaska Airlines temporarily grounded its 737 MAX 9 fleet, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered all MAX 9 jets with a door plug to be grounded. This affected a significant number of aircraft, with 171 out of the 215 delivered planes falling under the grounding order. Other major carriers, such as United Airlines, also had to ground their MAX 9 fleet.

Inspections and Rectification

During inspections, both Alaska Airlines and United Airlines discovered loose bolts on numerous door plugs. The FAA reported that 94% of all 737 MAX 9 aircraft had been inspected and cleared for service as of Monday, following approval from the FAA. The inspections aimed to ensure the proper installation of bolts and other components related to the door plug.

Boeing’s Response

The incident has further damaged Boeing’s reputation and raised questions about the company’s manufacturing and quality control processes. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun acknowledged the company’s responsibility for the problem and expressed a commitment to regain customers’ confidence through real action and transparency.

FAA Oversight and Production Rate Restriction

In response to the incident, the FAA has promised increased oversight of Boeing and temporarily restricted the company from increasing its production rate. This move demonstrates the FAA’s commitment to ensuring aircraft safety and avoiding any compromise in the manufacturing process.

Lessons Learned from the Incident

The missing bolts incident serves as a reminder of the importance of rigorous quality control throughout the entire manufacturing process. It highlights the need for proper communication and coordination between different stakeholders involved in the assembly and delivery of aircraft components. The incident also underscores the significance of robust inspection procedures to identify and rectify potential manufacturing defects before they impact flight safety.


The missing bolts incident on the Alaska Airlines jet has once again focused attention on the safety and quality control processes within the aviation industry. It emphasizes the need for continuous improvement in manufacturing practices, rigorous inspections, and effective communication between all stakeholders involved in the assembly and delivery of aircraft components. The incident has prompted Boeing and the FAA to take immediate action to prevent similar incidents in the future and restore public confidence in the safety of air travel.

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