A door blew off a Boeing 777X as the new plane was undergoing what was supposed to be its final structural inspection by federal regulators.
According to KomoNews, the test is meant to push the plane beyond its limits. Engineers had the plane pressurized and on the ground. They loaded it up well beyond capacity and bent its wings in an extreme manner, in a way almost certain to never happen in the real world.
As the ground test was underway and as engineers and FAA inspectors watched, a door blew off the plane.
Sources tell KOMO there was a stunned silence after it happened.
Former Boeing Engineer Dr. Todd Curtis runs Airsafe.com and said this doesn’t happen often. “I’ve never heard of a case where a door popped off like this during a stress test before,” he said. “Doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before, I’m just not aware of it.”
He said Boeing will want to know if this was an problem with this specific plane, or if there are other issues they need to address.
Boeing said it runs these extreme tests in order to make sure the planes are as safe as they can possibly be.
In a written statement to KOMO Newsradio, a Boeing spokesman said “…during ultimate load testing on the 777X static test airplane, an event occurred that forced the test team to halt testing. Safety is the highest priority at Boeing.
“The test team followed all safety protocols and there were no reported injuries. The team is currently working to understand what happened and ensure the area is safe for work to continue. The ultimate load test is the latest in a series of tests that Boeing has been conducting on this full-scale test airplane over the past several months.”
Dr. Curtis said this is not the time to race to conclusions, and it could be something totally innocuous that caused the door to come off. But it could cause delays. “It’s unlikely this will speed up certification,” he said. “It’s more likely it will make the certification team, whoever’s involved with Boeing and the FAA, do extra work to figure out what happened.
Investors were disappointed recently when Boeing announced delays in delivering its first 777X model into next year.