This airline weighs its passengers, for research


A Finnair passenger stepping on a scale at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport in Vantaa, Finland. — Reuters

Finnish carrier Finnair has begun weighing passengers with their carry-on luggage as part of a study aimed at better determining the weight of the aircraft before take-off, it said recently.

The weigh-ins will take place this month, as well as in April and May, and are on a voluntary basis, it said.

“Measurements began at Helsinki Airport (recently). So far, more than 500 volunteer customers have participated in the weigh-ins,” Finnair spokeswoman Kaisa Tikkanen said.

Finnair noted in a statement that flight balance calculations require airlines to know the “weight of the aircraft itself and the weight of fuel, checked baggage and cargo, onboard catering, water tanks, and of course customers”.

Airlines may use average weights provided by aviation authorities or collect their own data, it said.

“The collected data is not linked in any way to the customer’s personal data,” said Satu Munnukka, head of ground processes at Finnair.

“Only the customer service agent working at the measuring point can see the total weight, so you can participate in the study with peace of mind,” she said.

Probe suggests missing bolts

Meanwhile, four of the bolts securing the panel of a Boeing 737 MAX 9 Alaska Airlines jet that blew off mid-flight last month were missing, according to a preliminary investigation published recently.

The (United States) National Transportation Safety Board’s initial report into the Jan 5 incident said the lack of damage or deformation around the holes “indicate that the four bolts that prevent upward movement of the (door) plug were missing before the plug moved upward off the stop pads”.

The agency has collected written documents and photos showing that Boeing employees removed four bolts from these locations during an inspection at the Renton plant in Washington State prior to delivery of the aircraft last October.

That operation had been carried out to replace five damaged rivets in the cabin of the aircraft. Other photos taken after the rivets had been replaced show that at least three of the bolts had not been reinstalled.

This door plug was used to block an exit that was not intended to be used, as the model already has enough emergency exits in this configuration.

On Jan 5, the panel flew off mid-flight after the Alaska Airlines MAX 9 took off from Portland, Oregon bound for Ontario in California. The incident caused only minor injuries.

Alaska Airlines reported finding “loose equipment” following its own preliminary inspections.

United Airlines, which owns the largest fleet of 737 MAX 9s at 79 aircraft, said it had discovered “bolts that needed additional tightening” during checks. – AFP

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