After the near-miss of a Boeing 737-9 Max in the USA, there are increasing indications of a more far-reaching problem. After a part of the fuselage broke out of an Alaska Airlines jet mid-flight on Friday, the airline, like the larger United Airlines, discovered loose fasteners in the areas in question on other planes.
The US accident investigation authority NTSB does not rule out extending the checks to other variants of the aircraft. Even around five years after the fatal crashes of two 737 Max jets, Boeing is still not emerging from the crisis.
“Our first priority is to find out what happened to this plane,” said NTSB Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy late Monday evening in the US. "If we have a major system-wide or fleet-wide issue, we will issue an urgent safety recommendation to effect change." So far, the US aviation authority FAA has ordered a good 170 copies of the 737-9 Max to the ground and obliged operators to carry out inspections.
The broken out fuselage part replaces an aircraft door that is not needed. According to investigators, this insert moved up the cabin wall before dislodging with a loud bang. The lost fuselage part was found in a teacher's garden in the city of Portland, Oregon and is now being examined.
In Friday's incident, the 177 people on board the Boeing jet largely escaped shock. According to experts, this was also due to fortunate circumstances: no one was sitting directly next to the part that had broken out, and all passengers were still wearing their seatbelts.
The US airline United owns 79 aircraft of the affected type, Alaska 65. Airlines such as Iceland Air from Iceland and Lion Air from Indonesia also have the 737-9 Max in their fleets. However, their machines have an additional emergency exit installed on each side. This allows the jets to carry more passengers. This variant is not yet affected by the take-off ban and the FAA's requirements.
The EU aviation regulator EASA had already stated that airlines in the countries it supervises do not have aircraft of the type in question. According to the civil aviation authority there, there are no Boeing 737-9 Max registered at all in Great Britain.
Boeing has repeatedly made headlines with production defects. Despite the problems, Boeing delivered ten percent more aircraft in 2023 than in 2022. A total of 528 passenger and cargo jets found their way to their buyers, as the company announced on Tuesday. Boeing delivered 396 examples of the 737 series - especially the new edition Max. The group has no shortage of orders. In 2023 he received orders for 1,456 passenger and cargo jets. After deducting cancellations, new orders remained for 1,314 jets.