Inspectors find a key part missing from wing slat on Air Nippon Boeing 737-700

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Japanese transport officials have announcing finding another Boeing 737-700 missing a washer in the wing leading-edge slat-track one week after a similar missing part led to the explosion of a China Airlines 737-800.

An inspection found that All Nippon Airways (ANA) subsidiary Air Nippon was operating the single-aisle jet with the missing washer, which could allow the bolt in the downstop for the slat track to be jarred loose, according to the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry.

An Air Nippon Boeing 737-700 taking off from Taipei's Chaing Kai Shek airport

The CAL 737 was destroyed on August 20 after the loose bolt punctured a fuel tank, setting off a ranging fire after the aircraft landed. No passengers or crew were killed.

A senior Air Nippon official was quoted saying that the washer “may have not been installed right from the start,” according to press reports, implying that Boeing delivered the jet last January with the washer missing.

Boeing says it is continuing to collect data from its operators before making any decisions about changes for the design, production or maintenance of the 737 fleet.

The US FAA has ordered airlines to conduct borescope inspections within 10 days and perform a one-time torquing of the nut and bolt within 24 days.