Loose Bolts Found on 'Many' Boeing Planes: 'I Am Angry'

CEOs of Alaska Airlines, United Airlines suggest they may be done with Max model jets
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 24, 2024 8:23 AM CST
2 Major Airlines Dress Down Boeing: 'I Am Angry'
A United Airlines plane heads for a landing at Denver International Airport after a winter storm swept through the region on Jan. 16 in Denver.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Alaska Airlines has been examining its entire fleet of Boeing 737 Max 9 planes ever since a terrifying incident earlier this month, when a panel on one of its jets flew off, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the aircraft. On Tuesday, the airline's "incredulous" CEO told NBC News they'd since found "many" planes in their lineup with loose bolts, a fact he's fuming about. "I'm more than frustrated and disappointed," Ben Minicucci said. "I am angry. This happened to Alaska Airlines. It happened to our guests and happened to our people." He added: "My demand on Boeing is what are they going to do to improve their quality programs in-house."

Minicucci wasn't the only airline chief expressing concern about Boeing's planes. In a CNBC interview on Tuesday, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby shared his own thoughts, noting that the grounding of the Max 9 planes "is probably the straw that broke the camel's back for us." He said that although United has a standing order for Boeing's Max 10 jets, a larger version of the Max 9, his airline was "going to at least build a plan that doesn't have the Max 10 in it"—especially as the Max 10 planes "are years behind schedule" at getting FAA certification, per the AP. Minicucci similarly suggested that Alaska Airlines' plans for future Max 10 planes could be up in the air.

The FAA has grounded all Boeing Max 9 planes since the Jan. 5 incident and has its own safety probe underway. Boeing, for its part, is vowing to do better. "We have let down our airline customers and are deeply sorry for the significant disruption to them, their employees, and their passengers," the company said in a statement. "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." Boeing will have a "quality stand-down" on Thursday at its 737 factory in Renton, Washington, in which "production, delivery, and support teams will pause for a day so employees can take part in working sessions focused on quality," a company statement notes, per CNN Business. (More Boeing 737 stories.)

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