Boeing 737 MAX 9 Panel Failures: Why They Happen and Who’s Responsible


  • A panel on the Boeing 737 MAX 9, used instead of an extra emergency exit on some models, detached during flight.
  • Alaska Air Flight 1282 had to land due to this incident, with the panel leaving a large rectangular gap on the plane.
  • The panel or ‘plug’ is a feature of aircraft with fewer seats, offering flexible layouts. 171 out of 200+ planes delivered by Boeing use this plug.
  • Manufactured by Spirit AeroSystems and Boeing, the production process involves manufacturing in two locations and pressurizing the hull to ensure functionality.

Incident Recap

Not all planes are created equal. Some models of the MAX 9, for example, use a plug instead of an additional emergency exit. A panel, acting as this plug, was detached from Alaska Air’s Flight 1282 as it hit over 16,000 feet.

Explaining the Panel

The dislodged panel is actually found in the Boeing 737 MAX 9, which is the company’s largest single-aisle plane with a seating capacity of 220. An optional extra door is featured on models with the maximum seating capacity. But for those without, the door can be substituted with a panel or plug, a practice that has been common in the aviation industry.

The Plug’s Prevalence

Out of the more than 200 737 MAX 9 planes delivered by Boeing, 171 have this panel installed. These planes are being used by United and Alaska airlines in the US and by other carriers globally.

Production of the Panel

The fuselage for the 737s is manufactured by Spirit AeroSystems, based in Kansas, after its spin-off from Boeing in 2005. The panel is made by two suppliers, including Spirit, with Boeing also playing a critical role in the plug’s installation process.

Manufacturing Details

The installation involves a two-step process executed at Spirit’s massive fuselage plant in Wichita, Kansas, and at a Boeing factory outside Seattle. The fuselages are constructed for 737s, equipped with the specialized door assembly, and transported by train. Once in Renton, Washington, Boeing plant, the door is removed, interiors are loaded, and the installation is finalized. The hull is pressurized to 150% to verify all systems are functioning optimally.

In terms of the impact on trading, this incident could potentially influence both the forex and stock markets, specifically those who hold shares or trade in airline companies, aerospace manufacturing, and related industries.

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