WASHINGTON- Almost all of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft operated by Alaska Airlines (AS) and United Airlines (UA) have been brought back into service, approximately a month after the sudden depressurization incident on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 resulted in the grounding of most Boeing 737 Max 9s in the USA.
As of the Federal Aviation Administration’s update on February 5, nearly all of United’s 79 Max 9s have resumed their regular passenger flights. In comparison, Alaska Airlines has returned 57 out of its 65 next-generation narrowbody Boeing jets to scheduled operations.
United and Alaska 737 MAX Returned
Meanwhile, approximately 95% of the Boeing 737 MAX 9s in the USA have undergone inspections and are deemed “eligible to return to service,” as mentioned by Jodi Baker, the FAA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety.
In response to the mid-flight door-plug blowout incident on an Alaska Airlines Max 9 during a flight on January 5, heightened oversight has been implemented at Boeing’s production facility in Renton, Washington.
The FAA is intensifying its “surveillance” of Boeing’s production facilities, supplementing its ongoing audits of the company. Unlike audits that involve providing advanced notice to Boeing, this surveillance will be more informal and may not require prior notification.
Jodi Baker emphasizes that this approach allows for a better understanding of the safety culture, enabling direct conversations with employees to discern their motivations and concerns.
“It’s about establishing connections to comprehend the day-to-day challenges they face and assisting us in identifying any systemic issues with the manufacturer,” she emphasizes.
FAA is Addressing New Issue
The FAA conducted a press briefing in response to Boeing’s announcement on February 4, cautioning about potential delays in near-term 737 Max deliveries due to mis-drilled holes in the fuselage of around 50 undelivered jets.
The problem was brought to Boeing’s attention by a supplier on February 1, notifying them that holes in the fuselage might not have been drilled precisely to the required specifications.
Addressing the issue in a memo to employees on February 4, Boeing Commercial Airlines Chief Stan Deal stated, “While this issue could delay some near-term 737 deliveries, this is the only course of action given our commitment to deliver perfect airplanes every time.”
Jodi Baker mentions that the FAA is addressing Boeing’s recent quality concern through its “continued operational safety process.” She assures that the civil aviation regulator will meticulously ensure that the affected airplanes meet all safety standards before granting approval for their safety.
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