Boeing 737 Max 9s Will Start Returning to the Skies

FAA approves inspection process to clear grounded planes
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2024 1:00 AM CST
Boeing 737 Max 9s Will Start Returning to the Skies
This image taken Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, and released by the National Transportation Safety Board, shows a section of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 that is missing panel on a Boeing 737-9 MAX in Portland, Ore.   (NTSB via AP)

Despite the ongoing scrutiny of Boeing aircraft following a panel blowing off an Alaska Airlines plane midflight earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday opened up a path for the company's 737 Max 9s to return to service. The FAA grounded 171 planes after the Alaska Airlines blowout, leading to hundreds of cancellations a day for airlines that rely heavily on the planes, but has now approved an inspection process that, once completed, will allow the planes to return to the sky, CNN reports. Boeing says it will cooperate with the inspections and work with the FAA to see all the planes returned to service, the AP reports. Alaska is expecting planes to start returning to service Friday, and United over the weekend.

"The January 5 Boeing 737-9 Max incident must never happen again," the FAA said in its statement announcing the inspection approval. Says the FAA administrator, "The exhaustive, enhanced review our team completed after several weeks of information gathering gives me and the FAA confidence to proceed to the inspection and maintenance phase." The inspections, which will include all bolts, fittings, and guide tracks for the door plug (which is what flew off the Alaska Airlines plane) being inspected, all fasteners being tightened, and dozens of other components being inspected in detail, are expected to take 12 hours each. In not as good news for Boeing, no expansion of production of its Max line will be approved until quality control issues have been addressed. (Airline CEOs say loose bolts have been found on other Boeing planes.)

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