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Alaska and United Resume 737 MAX-9 Flights

Weeks after a blown-off door plug grounded the Boeing 737 MAX-9, airlines are once again utilizing the aircraft with FAA-approved inspection measures.
For Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, the Boeing 737 MAX-9 are once again in the skies.


Both carriers resumed flying the aircraft after the Federal Aviation Administration detailed inspection procedures to ensure another door plug does not come off the aircraft.


Alaska Resumes 737 MAX-9 Flights on Jan. 26, United One Day Later

The inspection process for the 737 MAX-9 was released on Wednesday, January 24, 2024 by the FAA. Under the new plan, airlines are expected to inspect “specific bolts, guide tracks and fittings,” as well as visual inspections of door plugs and “dozens of associated components.” Operators will also need to retorque fasteners down, and correct damage or abnormal conditions.


Shortly after the inspection plan was detailed, Alaska announced they would complete inspections and resume flying the 737 MAX-9 on Friday, Jan. 26. The first flight was Alaska Airlines Flight 1146 from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to San Diego International Airport (SAN). The carrier plans to have all inspections completed by the week ending February 2 and resume their normal flight schedule.


“Each of our 737-9 MAX will return to service only after the rigorous inspections are completed and each plane is deemed airworthy according to FAA requirements,” the airline said in a press release. “The individual inspections are expected to take up to 12 hours per aircraft.”


United is also returning the 737 MAX-9 to service. The Associated Press reports the Chicago-based airline resumed flying on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2024, with a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport (LAS).


Although the 737 MAX-9 is back in service, it doesn’t mean that business at Boeing is back to normal. The FAA is blocking any production expansion on the MAX line of aircraft as the agency continues to investigate both the aerospace giant and their suppliers for quality control failures.


“This won’t be back to business as usual for Boeing,” FAA administrator Mike Whitaker said in a statement. “We will not agree to any request from Boeing for an expansion in production or approve additional production lines for the 737 MAX until we are satisfied that the quality control issues uncovered during this process are resolved.”


Additionally, United could be considering an alternative solution for their existing 737 MAX-10 orders. Citing sources within the airline, Reuters reports United may be in talks with Airbus to order A321neo jets due to the delay in 737 MAX-10 production.


The 737 MAX-9 was originally grounded after a door plug blew off Alaska Airlines 1261 mid-flight. The aircraft returned to the airport safely with no casualties.


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Feature image courtesy: Alaska Airlines