The FAA is requiring inspections of all Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft after a sudden decompression aboard an Alaska Airlines flight on Friday.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Saturday it would temporarily ground certain Boeing 737 Max aircraft and require immediate inspections, after a section of one aircraft blew off during an Alaska Airlines flight on Friday.
“The FAA is requiring immediate inspections of certain Boeing 737 Max 9 planes before they can return to flight,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said Saturday. The inspections are estimated to take 4-8 hours per aircraft.
Following the FAA’s order, United Airlines joined Alaska in temporarily grounding certain 737-9 aircraft. The Chicago-based carrier operates 79 737-9s, and has already inspected 33 planes. It anticipates roughly 60 flight cancellations on Saturday due to the temporary grounding.
The FAA’s order also affects any 737-9s flying to the U.S. Aeromexico, Copa Airlines, and Icelandair fly the plane on U.S. routes, Cirium Diio schedules show.
Boeing said Saturday they “agree with and fully support” the FAA’s decision to mandate inspections of certain 737-9 aircraft. The planemaker has sent a technical team to aid with the investigation into the Alaska incident.
The temporary grounding is the latest blow to the 737 Max after the type was grounded for nearly two years after two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. The plane, including the -8 and -9 variants, was recertified by the FAA for passenger flights in November 2020.
There have been no notable incidents with Maxes in the three years since it was recertifed, and Boeing has sold hundreds of the planes to airlines around the world.
In an unrelated issue in late December, Boeing discovered a nut that was not properly tightened in an undelivered aircraft after an international operator discovered a bolt with a missing nut in a rudder-control system. Boeing recommended that airlines inspect their 737 MAX airplanes.
The FAA’s move follows the sudden decompression of a two-month old 737-9 on Friday. Alaska flight AS1282 was flying from Portland, Ore., to Ontario, Calif., when a section of the plane’s fuselage blew off shortly after takeoff and caused a sudden decompression on board.
The plane was able to land safely back at Portland International Airport and no one was seriously injured.
The incident prompted Alaska to temporarily ground its fleet of 65 737-9s for inspection. Alaska earlier said it had completed thorough inspections for 18 of the 65 aircraft – those 18 have also been pulled from service.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the Alaska Airlines incident.
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