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Boeing CEO admits 'mistake' in terrifying midair blowout

Federal regulators have grounded all Boeing 737 Max 9 jets after a panel on an Alaska Airlines flight detached nearly 16,000 feet in the air.
Boeing CEO admits 'mistake' in terrifying midair blowout
Posted at 12:22 PM, Jan 10, 2024

The head of one of the largest commercial airplane manufacturers in the world is now admitting that his company is to blame for a midair blowout last week that forced a passenger flight to make an emergency landing.

Boeing CEO David Calhoun said Tuesday the terrifying incident was a "mistake" that "can never happen again." That was in response to an Alaska Airlines flight leaving from Portland, Oregon, Friday when a panel — known as a door plug — became detached from the Boeing 737 Max 9 jet when it was already nearly 16,000 feet in the air. 

SEE MORE: FAA says 737 Max 9 planes will stay grounded until safety is ensured

The gaping hole caused the cabin to rapidly depressurize, forcing the pilot to turn around and make an emergency landing back at Portland International Airport. Of the 171 passengers and six crew members on board, only minor injuries were reported. 

"I've got kids, I've got grandkids, and so do you," Calhoun said in an address to company employees. "This stuff matters. Everything matters. Every detail matters. I know I'm preaching to the choir here [but] this isn't a lecture, not by any stretch. It's nothing more than a reminder of the seriousness with which we have to approach our work." 

Calhoun added that the company is going to work with the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate the incident and "get a conclusion" as to what the root cause was. 

SEE MORE: United Airlines found loose bolts on grounded Boeing 737 Max 9 jets

The Federal Aviation Administration ordered a temporary grounding of certain active 737 Max 9 planes the day after the incident and said the aircraft will remain grounded until they're proved to be safe for travelers. The grounding affects an estimated 171 planes that operate in U.S. territory or under U.S. carriers.  

"Boeing must provide instructions to operators for inspection and maintenance," the FAA said. "Boeing offered an initial version of instructions [Monday] which they are now revising because of feedback received in response." 

Regulators said they were trying to determine if four bolts meant to hold the door in place had ever been installed in the affected plane. While the NTSB has recovered the door itself, the bolts have still not been located.

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