Panel of Boeing 737-800 missing after United Airlines flight lands in Oregon

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Investigators are looking into why the Boeing plane was missing an exterior panel after a flight from San Francisco to Oregon, officials said. The company was already facing intense scrutiny from passengers and regulators over incidents involving its planes.

United Airlines said Flight 433, carrying 139 passengers and six crew members, was found missing an exterior panel after the Boeing 737-800 parked at the gate of Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in Oregon on Friday. It was not immediately clear when or how the panel broke on the plane that took off from San Francisco International Airport that morning.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane landed safely and that the missing panel was discovered during a “post-landing airline inspection.” The FAA said it would investigate.

According to the airline, there was no sign of damage during the flight, which landed at its scheduled destination and no emergencies were declared en route to Medford Airport. There were no reports of injuries.

“We will thoroughly inspect the aircraft and make any necessary repairs before it returns to service,” United said in a statement. He said an investigation would also be conducted “to better understand how this damage occurred.”

Airport director Amber Judd said in an email that no debris was found at the airfield after the flight landed around noon and that routine inspections revealed the missing panel. Operations at the airport were halted for a runway safety check and resumed a few minutes later, Judd said.

Boeing referred questions about the flight to United Airlines.

The bad news for Boeing came after a 737 Max explosion in January, when a door-plug fell out during an Alaska Airlines flight, leaving a huge hole that frightened passengers mid-air and forced an emergency landing.

The FAA began investigating Boeing’s manufacturing after the door-plug failure. An agency audit found the company needed to improve in several areas, and regulators gave it 90 days to draft a plan to fix any quality control issues.

The aerospace giant said in February that it had a “clear picture of what needs to be done” and that it was “fully committed to meeting this challenge.”

Recent investigations have focused on the 737 Max, a widely used single-aisle airliner. About five years ago, 346 people died in two horrific crashes of 737 Max planes.

The plane whose panel was reported missing in Friday’s incident was an older 737-800, not the 737 Max.

In recent days, Boeing had alerted airlines about a potential problem with loose switches on the pilot seats of its 787 Dreamliner jets after one of the planes suddenly dived, injuring 50 people, the Washington Post reported. Went. From Australia that flight continued to New Zealand. The 787 is a large aircraft, used primarily on long-haul international routes.

Iain Duncan and Lori Aratani contributed to this report.

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