The CEO of Alaska Airlines, Ben Minicucci, revealed during an interview with NBC News on Tuesday that the airline discovered “loose bolts on many” of its Boeing planes after conducting an internal inspection.
In a previous report by Blaze News, it was mentioned that an Alaska Airlines flight traveling from Portland International Airport to Ontario, California had to make an emergency landing when a panel on the Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft blew out mid-flight.
The plane was carrying 171 passengers and six crew members. Fortunately, no one was sitting next to the affected panel.
It is worth noting that there were only seven vacant seats on the aircraft at the time of this incident.
“We had a guardian angel, honestly, on that airplane,” Minicucci told NBC News.
Following the incident, all Boeing Max 9 airplanes have been grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration. In response, the agency is currently undertaking a safety investigation and conducting an audit of Boeing’s production line as well as its suppliers. According to FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker in an interview with CNBC, the agency is implementing visual inspections on the aircraft during its assembly at Boeing’s factory in order to ensure stringent quality control measures are being upheld.
“We’re shifting from more of an audit approach to a direct inspection approach,” Whitaker remarked.
After conducting recent internal inspections, Alaska Airlines discovered that a significant number of its aircraft had bolts that were not securely fastened.
“We found some loose bolts on many of our Max 9s,” Minicucci stated. “Those are things that are going to be rectified through the inspection process.”
“I’m more than frustrated and disappointed,” he continued. “I am angry. This happened to Alaska Airlines. It happened to our guests and happened to our people. And — my demand on Boeing is what are they going to do to improve their quality programs in-house.”
Minicucci mentioned that auditors from Alaska Airlines will be dispatched to assess Boeing’s quality control systems.
“I knew that this was an issue out of the [Boeing] factory,” he added. “And it’s clear to me that we received an airplane from Boeing with a faulty door. Now the [National Transportation Safety Board] investigation is going to figure out why that was a faulty door, whether it was bad installation, missing hardware, a manufacturing issue, but there’s no doubt that Alaska received an airplane off the production line with a faulty door.”
Loose bolts have been discovered on United Airlines’ Max 9 aircraftS as well.
“We have let down our airline customers and are deeply sorry for the significant disruption to them, their employees and their passengers,” Boeing said in a statement to NBC News. “We are taking action on a comprehensive plan to bring these airplanes safely back to service and to improve our quality and delivery performance. We will follow the lead of the FAA and support our customers every step of the way.”