NATIONAL NEWS

Alaska Airlines CEO says company found loose bolts on ‘many’ Boeing Max 9s

Jan 23, 2024, 3:52 PM

FILE: An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 plane sits at a gate at Seattle-Tacoma International Airp...

FILE: An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 plane sits at a gate at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on January 6, 2024 in Seattle, Washington. Alaska Airlines grounded its 737 MAX 9 planes after part of a fuselage blew off during a flight from Portland Oregon to Ontario, California. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

It’s the CEO’s first interview since a door plug on one of its Max 9 airplanes shot out from the side of the fuselage only a few minutes into a flight from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing.

“I’m more than frustrated and disappointed. I am angry. This happened to Alaska Airlines. It happened to our guests and happened to our people,” Minicucci said, according to excerpts released ahead of the interview’s airing.

He added that the company is adding its own extra oversight on the airplane maker’s production line. The US Federal Aviation Administration urged airlines on Sunday to inspect so-called door plugs on an earlier version of Boeing 737 airplanes. After recent inspections of the newer Max 9s, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines have found loose bolts.

NBC asked Minicucci if Boeing has a problem with quality control extending beyond a single plane.

“I think this is the issue that’s at question right here, which is what is Boeing going to do differently on their quality program, to make sure that when we get an airplane, it’s at the highest degree of excellence and that’s what’s got to be different going forward,” he said.

FAA opened a formal investigation into Boeing’s quality control around two weeks ago. The agency said it continued to review data collected from inspections of 40 sample aircraft as it considered how to determine if the planes were safe to fly again.

Minicucci noted in the interview that the inspections take about 10 hours per door.

In a statement, Stan Deal, the CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said: “We have let down our airline customers and are deeply sorry for the significant disruption to them, their employees and their passengers. 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.”

The CEO of United Airlines, one of the biggest buyers of Boeing jets, also expressed frustration with the company.

“I’m disappointed that… this keeps happening at Boeing. This isn’t new,” said Scott Kirby, CEO of United, in an interview Tuesday on CNBC. “We need Boeing to succeed. But they’ve been having these consistent manufacturing challenges. They need to take action here.”

CNN’s Chris Isidore, Gregory Wallace and Hanna Ziady contributed to this report.


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Alaska Airlines CEO says company found loose bolts on ‘many’ Boeing Max 9s