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Alaska Says “Many” 737 MAX-9 Found with Loose Bolts

Alaska Airlines is now reconsidering adding the Boeing 737 MAX-10 to their fleet after the airline president says they found “many” aircraft with the loose door plug bolts.
Despite proudly being “All Boeing” for decades, Alaska Airlines chief executive Ben Minicucci says his airline is now reconsidering their stance after more loose bolts on door plugs were found during examinations of 737 MAX-9 airframes.


The comments came during an NBC News interview, where Minicucci expressed frustrations with the Chicago-based aerospace giant.


Minicucci: “I Am Angry.”

During the inspection process after Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 lost a door plug mid-flight, Minicucci revealed that multiple MAX-9 airframes in their fleet had a similar issue. As a result, the Minicucci is seeking answers and accountability.


“I’m more than frustrated and disappointed,” Minicucci told NBC News. “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.”


Although Alaska previously said they would improve their oversight of Boeing’s manufacturing procedures, the latest discovery may be enough to shake the airline’s faith. When Alaska purchased Virgin America in 2016, one of the first orders of business post-integration was selling off the Airbus airframes. With the purchase of Hawaiian Airlines pending, Minicucci said the carrier could seek to add Airbus aircraft to their fleet.


“I think everything’s open at this point,” Minicucci told NBC News. “I think we’re going to do what’s best for Alaska long term, in terms of fleet mix for us. It gives us optionality.”


Moreover, Minicucci says the company is rethinking adding the Boeing 737 MAX-10 to the fleet. He becomes the second airline CEO to express doubts about the new aircraft, after United Airlines leader Scott Kirby told investors his airline would also reevaluate.


The new findings come under allegations that the loose door plug bolts were the work of Boeing, not parts supplier Spirit AeroSystems. Citing an anonymous source, the Seattle Times claims whistleblowers inside the company say the bolts “were not installed when Boeing delivered the airplane.” The claims have not been independently proven or substantiated.


Boeing has not publicly commented on the Seattle Times report. However, the company is celebrating the orders of new 737 MAX jets to India-based carrier Akasa Air. Boeing’s latest press release says the airline confirmed 150 more MAX airframes, split between the 737 MAX-8 and 737 MAX-10.


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