Alaska Airlines has begun flying Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliners again for the first time since they were grounded after a panel blew out of the side of one of the airline’s planes.
Airline says it completed final inspection of grounded jets with FAA approvalThe Associated Press
· Posted: Jan 27, 2024 2:55 PM EST | Last Updated: January 27
An Alaska Airlines passenger flight on a Boeing 737 Max 9 airplane takes off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in March 2021. (Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)Alaska Airlines has begun flying Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliners again for the first time since they were grounded after a panel blew out of the side of one of its planes.
The airline said in a statement that it has completed its final inspection of their group of the aircraft. They said they resumed flying the Max 9 with a flight from Seattle to San Diego on Friday afternoon.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the inspection and maintenance process to return the planes to flying. Technicians at Alaska began inspections that night, the airline said.
The airline said they expect inspections to be completed by the end of next week, allowing the airline to operate a full flight schedule. Inspections are expected to take up to 12 hours per aircraft.
“Each of our 737-9 Max will return to service only after the rigourous inspections are completed and each plane is deemed airworthy according to FAA requirements,” Alaska Airlines said in a written statement Friday.
WATCH | FAA approves return of dozens of grounded Max 9s:
FAA approves plan to return dozens of grounded Boeing 737 Max 9s to serviceU.S. aviation officials say dozens of Boeing 737 Max 9s can return to the skies after passing a full inspection and maintenance process. This comes almost three weeks after a cabin panel blew out on an Alaska Airlines flight in midair, and just days after a Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 lost a nose wheel while preparing for takeoff. Boeing’s CEO told U.S. lawmakers the company’s products are safe.
Alaska Airlines and United Airlines are the only two U.S. airlines that operate this particular model of the Boeing 737.
United said it began flying Boeing Max 9 jetliners on Saturday. The first was United Flight 1525 from Newark to Las Vegas, which departed at 10:30 a.m. local time with 175 passengers and six crew, the airline confirmed via email. The company said it expects other passenger flights on Boeing Max 9 aircraft Saturday.
The FAA has detailed the process that airlines must follow to inspect — and if necessary, repair — the panels called door plugs, one of which broke loose on Alaska Airlines flight 1282 on Jan. 5.
The plugs are used to seal holes left for extra doors on the Max 9 when an unusually high number of seats requires more exits for safety reasons.
The fuselage plug area of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 is seen during its investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Portland, Ore., on Jan. 7. (NTSB/Reuters)Alaska Airlines grounded all 65 of its Max 9 jets within hours after one of the two door plugs in the back half of the cabin of flight 1282 blew away while it was about 4,900 metres above Oregon. The FAA grounded all Max 9s in the U.S. the day after the blowout.
No passengers were seriously injured.