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FAA investigates Boeing after recent panel blowout on 737-9 Max aircraft

By Ehren Wynder
The National Transportation Safety Board announced on Monday it had recovered the door plug from Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 in Cedar Hills, Ore. Photo by NTSB
The National Transportation Safety Board announced on Monday it had recovered the door plug from Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 in Cedar Hills, Ore. Photo by NTSB | License Photo

Jan. 11 (UPI) -- The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday it is investigating Boeing after a fuselage panel blew out mid-flight on one of its passenger jets almost a week ago.

The administration said it notified Boeing of the investigation, and it plans to determine whether Boeing failed to ensure that completed 737-9 Max airliners complied with FAA safety regulations.

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"This incident should have never happened and it cannot happen again," the FAA said in the statement.

The investigation follows an incident Friday in which an Alaska Airlines 737-9 Max airliner lost a plug panel on the rear fuselage. The flight was taking 171 passengers and six crew from Portland, Ore., to Ontario, Calif.

No one was seriously injured, but the blowout prompted Alaska Airlines to temporarily ground its fleet of 65 737-9 Max jets and undertake a "thorough" safety inspection of the aircraft.

Inspections of some of the 737-9 Max aircraft revealed loose bolts holding in similar plugs, which can be placed in different locations on the plane as determined by the airline.

As investigations continue, Alaska Airlines on Wednesday said it canceled upward of 110 flights relying on Boeing's 737-9 Max aircraft. The airline said it is waiting for a full inspection and approval from the FAA before it will resume the flights.

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United Airlines also canceled more than 100 flights involving 737-9 Max aircraft. The airline earlier in the week also said it discovered several instances of loose bolts holding down "exit plugs" on the jets.

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