FAA says 737 Max operator discovered loose bolts in rudder control system on plane

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said an operator of a 737 Max plane discovered loose bolts in a rudder control system for the plane.

The FAA said it received a report about a missing nut, washer and “migrated” bolt in the system from an operator in December of last year.

It said Boeing then inspected all 737 Max 8, 737 Max 8-200, and 737 Max 9 planes in production and turned up another “under-torqued nut at the same location.”

The FAA’s comments come from an upcoming airworthiness directive from the agency that will require “a one-time inspection” of the system in which the loose bolts were discovered for certain Max airplanes. The directive is scheduled to be published Monday.

The agency’s directive follows last month’s incident in which an “explosive decompression” occurred on an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 flight from Portland, Ore., to Ontario, Calif., when a panel plugging an unused emergency exit door blew off during the plane’s flight.

An attorney for over 20 passengers on the Alaska Airlines flight that experienced the blowout said the plane was “essentially a time bomb” in the wake of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) preliminary report which found bolts missing from the plane.

“A plane was delivered by Boeing to Alaska Airlines without four critical bolts, which means the plane was essentially a time bomb. This door plug could have blown off at any time,” attorney Mark Lindquist said to Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”

The NTSB’s Tuesday report found four bolts that were supposed to assist in securing a door plug on the Max 9 aircraft were missing before it experienced the blowout. Investigators said the bolts had been meant to stop the door plug from going upward.

“Overall, the observed damage patterns and absence of contact damage or deformation around holes associated with the vertical movement arrestor bolts and upper guide track bolts in the upper guide fittings, hinge fittings, and recovered aft lower hinge guide fitting indicate that the four bolts that prevent upward movement of the MED [mid exit door] plug were missing before the MED plug moved upward off the stop pads,” the report states.

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