Carrier Removed Problematic Flap Doors
The FAA will not require Alaska
Airlines to make any changes to its fleet of Boeing 737-400s,
following four emergency landings by three 737-400 Combis in
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports the Seattle-based carrier
is responding to incidents wherein the wing flaps failed to fully
deploy for landing. FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer does not consider
the incidents dangerous, according to an email response to the
Flight crews are trained to handle landings with flaps fully up
by increasing speed to maintain lift. With the speed increase comes
the need for a longer runway... or the possibility of rolling off
the end of a short runway. In turn, it's standard procedure for the
pilot to declare an emergency.
"Once the second incident occurred, we decided to inspect all
the others, to see whether they have the same hardware-wear issue,"
Airline spokesman Paul McElroy said. The problem was traced to the
housing for the machinery that deploys the flaps. McElroy stressed
the repairs weren't "required by the manufacturer or the FAA. We're
doing it just to improve reliability." None of the emergency
landings resulted in any injuries or property damage.
Alaska has since removed the door coverings over the flaps from
all 40 of its 737-400 aircraft as a preventative measure. "The
aircraft are safe to fly without the doors," Kenitzer explained,
adding the removal has "eliminated the possibility of this problem
As ANN reported, the airline
did not disclose the incidents until the P-I contacted the airline.
Alaska was not required to notify the FAA or NTSB, according to
McElroy, but personnel with both agencies, along with Boeing, have
since been contacted.
Five of Alaska's 40 -400s are Combis, which have been converted
to carry both cargo and passengers (an older, 737-200 Combi, is
shown below.) It is not known whether the problem may be unique to
the Combi fleet.
Alaska currently flies a mix of 737 variants. The carrier lists
12 737-900s in its fleet, five 737-800s, 22 737-700s, 40 737-400s,
and two 737-200 "Combis".
The 40-plane fleet will still be examined by both Alaska
Airlines and Boeing.