Airlines to inspect Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft


Airlines received technical instructions on how to inspect the 737 Max 9 from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday, two days after one of the planes suffered a dangerous malfunction during a flight.

The FAA required the inspections on Saturday, a day after a plane part blew up during an Alaska Airlines flight near Portland, Oregon. Airlines, particularly Alaska and United Airlines, which have the largest number of Max 9 planes in their fleets, had parked the planes over the weekend while they waited for Boeing and the FAA to issue instructions.

In a statement, the FAA said the required inspections will focus on “plugs” placed where exit doors, door components and fasteners would otherwise be installed. The part of the plane that was torn off, at an altitude of 16,000 feet, included one of those plugs.

“Our teams have been working diligently, with extensive FAA review, to provide comprehensive technical instructions to operators for the required inspections,” said Stan Deal, CEO of Boeing's commercial aircraft unit, and Mike Delaney, director aerospace safety. in a message to employees of that unit on Monday.

The FAA has previously said it would take four to eight hours to inspect each plane. The inspection of the nearly 200 Max 9 planes in the United States, according to the aviation agency, could take a few days. But it's unclear exactly how many planes were arranged in the same way as the ill-fated Alaska plane. European aviation regulators said Monday that the version of the plane used there was configured differently and did not need to be inspected.

Aviation regulators and Boeing said the inspections are unique to the Max 9 and not other versions of the Max plane. The Max 9, along with the more popular Max 8, was grounded for almost two years after two fatal Max 8 crashes in 2018 and 2019.

In a statement Monday, Alaska Airlines said its technicians had prepared its Max 9s for inspections, but it was still waiting for the FAA to affirm that the airline's inspection process complies with the agency's order. Alaska said it is also still developing detailed instructions and processes for its technicians to follow.

Federal authorities investigating the incident, which caused no serious injuries, are also investigating what prompted pressurization warnings on the damaged plane during three recent flights. Alaska Airlines workers rebooted the system and the plane was put back into service, although the airline restricted its use on flights to destinations such as Hawaii, National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy said at a news conference. press on Sunday night.

When asked about its response to the warnings, Alaska Airlines said it could not answer questions about the plane and what caused the explosion without approval from the safety board, which is leading the federal investigation. But Alaska said it had asked the NTSB to share more information and would do so if allowed. In such investigations, the parties are restricted in what they can share publicly.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun plans to host a company-wide safety meeting on Tuesday to discuss the company's response to the episode and reaffirm its commitment to safety. Boeing is still working to secure approval for the smaller Max 7 and larger Max 10.

Shares of Boeing fell about 7 percent as of 2 p.m. Monday, and shares of Spirit AeroSystems, which makes the plane's body, also fell about 7 percent.

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