Skift Take

The extra set of inspections for the Boeing 737-900ER brings more scrutiny to the beleaguered aircraft manufacturer.

The Federal Aviation Administration is asking airlines to visually inspect the door plugs on another type of Boeing 737 jet.

In a safety alert issued late Sunday night, the FAA said the Boeing 737-900ER has an “identical door plug design,” to that of the Boeing 737 Max 9, which has been grounded for weeks after a door panel blew off the plane on an Alaska Airlines flight. The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating. 

The incident prompted the FAA to launch an investigation into whether Boeing failed to ensure the plane was safe and was in compliance with the agency’s regulations. The company has said is cooperating fully with the agency’s probe.

The 737-900ER is an older model that is not a part of the Boeing 737 Max family. There are 490 of these jets currently in service, according to data from Cirium Diio. 

In the U.S., Alaska, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines operate the 737-900ER. Delta, Alaska and United said in statements that they did not expect the inspections to impact their operations. 

‘Added Layer of Security’

The FAA’s safety alert recommends that airlines check four locations of the door plug that keep it secure. There have been no reported issues with the door plugs of the 737-900ER, but the federal agency said it was recommending inspections “as an added layer of security.” 

The development brings more scrutiny to Boeing, which has repeatedly faced issues with its newer 737 Max fleet. Two fatal crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max 8 led the FAA to ground the plane for nearly two years, and now, it’s unclear when affected 737 Max 9s will go back into service. 

Amid the incidents, the U.S. manufacturer has been slowly losing market share to its main competitor, Airbus. In 2023, the European manufacturer delivered 735 commercial aircraft to 87 customers, while Boeing delivered 528 — this was the fifth consecutive year Airbus had more commercial aircraft orders than Boeing. 

Boeing is set to report its fourth-quarter earnings on January 31. Skift and Airline Weekly will have full coverage.

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Tags: american airlines, Boeing, boeing 737 max 9, delta air lines, united airlines

Photo credit: A Delta Boeing 737-900ER / Credit: Delta Air Lines Delta Air Lines / Delta Air Lines

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