Alaska and United continue to cancel hundreds of flights as the FAA orders certain Boeing 737 Max 9s remain grounded for inspection.
Cancellations for Alaska Airlines and United Airlines continued into Monday as the FAA said certain Boeing 7 Max 9s would stay grounded until the agency deemed them safe to operate.
Alaska had 139 flights canceled as of Monday morning, United had 204, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.
The FAA order came after a section of the plane – a door plug – suddenly blew off shortly after takeoff on an Alaska 737 Max 9 that had departed Portland, Oregon for Ontario, California. The plane — which was delivered to Alaska just two months ago — landed safely and no one was seriously injured.
That door plug has since been found in a schoolteacher’s backyard, National Transportation Safety Board chair Jennifer Homendy said Sunday night.
Alaska Airlines said in a statement no one was assigned to sit in the seats by the door plug and no seating assignments were changed, either.
While Alaska and United are the only two U.S. carriers that operate the 737 Max 9, the order has also impacted international carriers that fly 737 9s to the U.S. Aeromexico, Copa Airlines, Icelandair and Turkish Airlines fly the plane on U.S. routes.
The accident resulted in significant damage to the interior of Alaska’s 737 Max 9. Homendy said the accident caused damage to the paneling, trim and the internal portion of the windows near the door plug, along with some of the insulation. Around 12 rows of the aircraft suffered damage from the accident.
The NTSB chair said these parts were not critical to the structure of the aircraft.
Minor Issues with Alaska’s 737 Max 9 Aircraft Before Accident
The auto pressurization fail lights, which alert of any issues with controlling cabin pressure, on the aircraft also illuminated three separate times before the accident on December 7, January 3 and January 4, Homendy said. Those instances led to maintenance tests and resets.
“We don’t know that there was any correlation of the two, it could be entirely separate,” Homendy said, referring to the door plug and the auto pressurization fail lights.
Alaska had previously placed a restriction on flying the aircraft to Hawaii over water in case it needed to quickly land back to an airport.
“We plan to look at that more and we’ve requested documentation on all defects since delivery of the aircraft on October 31st,” Homendy said.
Alaska said Sunday night it expected the disruptions from the accident and FAA order to continue into the first half of the week.
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