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FAA Now Reviewing Data From Inspections of 40 Grounded Boeing 737 MAX 9 Jets

FAA Now Reviewing Data From Inspections of 40 Grounded Boeing 737 MAX 9 Jets

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The Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday that it is now in receipt of data from the first detailed inspections of 40 ground Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft. The inspections of all 171 grounded 737-9s cannot continue until the FAA has thoroughly reviewed the data and approved the inspection process.

Last week, the agency said it was “encouraged by the exhaustive nature of Boeing’s instructions for inspections and maintenance” of the grounded 737 MAX 9 variant with an aft cabin exit plug.

The data review is starting nearly two weeks after Alaska Airlines flight 1282 an exit plug blowout as it climbed out to beyond 16,000 feet a short time after takeoff from Portland.

Thankfully, only minor injuries were reported amongst the 171 passengers and six crew members onboard, but the FAA has vowed to keep the plane grounded until it is certain that Boeing’s inspection and maintenance protocols for the exit plug are up to scratch.

Both Alaska Airlines and United Airlines have confirmed that loose hardware, such as bolts that needed tightening, have been found on some 737-9s in their fleets during preliminary inspections.

“All 737-9 MAX aircraft with door plugs will remain grounded pending the FAA’s review and final approval of an inspection and maintenance process that satisfies all FAA safety requirements,” the FAA said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Once the FAA approves an inspection and maintenance process, it will be required on every grounded 737-9 MAX prior to future operation. The safety of the flying public, not speed, will determine the timeline for returning these aircraft to service.”

The FAA has been hesitant to provide a timeline for when the data review might be completed or when grounded 737-9s might be cleared for takeoff again.

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the blowout on Alaska flight 1282, but on Wednesday, the agency warned lawmakers that a feared federal shutdown would “dramatically hinder” its ability to continue with the investigation.

Examination of the recovered exit door plug is ongoing, according to the NTSB, and analysis of the plane’s maintenance records is also still underway. The NTSB said on Wednesday that it hopes to start interviewers with “involved persons” in the near future.

View Comment (1)
  • The same Boeing factory in Renton that produces the MAX-9 also produces the MAX-8 (and MAX-7 and MAX-10). I find it interesting that FAA is ONLY grounding the MAX-9. What is more interesting is how the press never mentions the “possible NUTLESS rudder” on the MAX-8. If its carelessness on the MAX-9 line, there was also carelessness on the MAX-8 but with the rudder. Believe an Indian airline found a rudder with a missing washer? And Alaska already has had one fatal crash due to rudder issues – albeit with a MD-80. Where is the press writing about the rudder inspections on the MAX-8? Where is the press writing about the safety exceptions Boeing is seeking on the uncertified MAX-7 and MAX-10?

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