Four bolts intended to fasten a door plug panel on a Boeing 737 Max 9 were missing before last month's midair Alaska Airlines blowout near Portland, according to a federal report released yesterday. It marks the first official account of the incident, which led to the temporary grounding of over 170 Max 9s and prompted renewed scrutiny of Boeing.
The investigation found unnamed Boeing employees at its factory in Washington state removed the door plug to allow repairs in September. An image taken of the reinstalled door (for unrelated reasons) reportedly shows the missing bolts. The plane was delivered to Alaska Airlines in October, and investigators saw no evidence the plug was removed again.
The report came the same day the head of the Federal Aviation Administration faced congressional scrutiny over the agency's alleged lax oversight of Boeing amid a string of recent technical malfunctions at the manufacturer. The FAA committed to adding more inspectors to Boeing factories.