Missing Panel Grounds United Airlines Boeing 737-800 In Oregon

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  • Missing panel on United Airlines 737-800 prompts thorough examination before return to service.
  • Flight 433 from SFO to MFR had 139 passengers and 6 crew members onboard with no declared emergency.
  • United Airlines and Boeing face negative headlines with recent incidents, including a MAX 8 runway excursion and 737-900 engine fire.

After landing on schedule at Oregon’s Medford Rogue Valley International Airport (MFR), a missing panel was discovered on a United Airlines 737-800. The aircraft had just flown 53 minutes from San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

United Airlines told Simple Flying that it would conduct a thorough examination of the aircraft and perform needed examinations before returning the aircraft into service. The missing panel was discovered after the aircraft had parked at the gate at MFR, and United says that it plans an investigation to understand how the damage had occurred.

The aircraft involved was a 25-year-old 737-800 that was originally delivered to Continental Airlines in 1998. The flight between SFO and MFR was UA433, a once-daily service connecting the two airports.

The flight

United Airlines confirmed to Simple Flying that today, 139 passengers and six crew members were onboard Flight 433. The aircraft did not declare an emergency during its flight and operated normally without indicating damage to the aircraft.

Photos published on social media indicated that the panel missing was directly aft of the port side main landing gear. The missing panel revealed hydraulic housing associated with the landing gear actuation. It is unclear if there was any damage to the landing gear of the aircraft.

Flight 433, for its part, had departed SFO at 10:39 am local time, arriving in MFR at 11:32. The aircraft had reached an altitude of 30,000 ft during the short flight.

More Bad news for United & Boeing

The news was more negative headlines for both United Airlines and planemaker Boeing, involving both SFO and Oregon. Boeing itself is involved in several investigations, one of which is criminal after the failure of a door plug on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 forced that aircraft to return to Portland, Oregon (PDX).

The failure of the door plug on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, which involved a Boeing 737 MAX 9, has prompted a number of civil lawsuits, and congressional reports have suggested shortcomings in Boeing’s safety management systems.

A Boeing 737 MAX 8 in United Airlines’ fleet was recently involved in a runway excursion at Houston International Airport (IAH). That aircraft had slid off the taxiway when exiting the runway after landing. An investigation is still underway for that incident.

Flight Path of United 433

Photo: Flightradar24.com 

While the runway surface at the time was wet, which would increase the likelihood of excursion, another United 737 MAX had recently prompted a federal investigation after the failure of rudder pedals at Newark. It remains unclear what caused both incidents.

United, seemingly out of frustration with ever-mounting certification delays, has told Boeing to stop manufacturing 737 MAX 10s for the airline, instead focusing on the 737 MAX 9. A recent earnings report from the airline suggested that it would not receive any MAX 10s after 2025.

Days later, a United Airlines 737-900 would be forced to return to IAH after a fire aboard one of that aircraft’s engines. United has also faced aircraft difficulties at SFO when a wheel fell off of one of the airline’s 777-300ERs as it departed for Sydney (SYD).

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