The United States Federal Aviation Administration has grounded all 171 airframes of the worldwide fleet of Boeing 737 MAX-9. The announcement reads below:
The FAA is requiring immediate inspections of certain Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes before they can return to flight.
— The FAA ?? (@FAANews) January 6, 2024
This comes after a flurry of activity over Alaska Airlines, Inc. Flight AS1282 which suffered severe decompression and had to return to Portland International Airport yesterday. Passengers posted video showing one of the windows falling off of the aircraft, causing the entire cabin to decompress. One person was hospitalized following landing around 2100 EST.
The NTSB immediately launched and investigation:
NTSB is investigating an event involving Alaska Airlines Flight 1282. We will post any updates regarding the investigation when they are available.
— NTSB Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) January 6, 2024
Alaska Airlines made this statement following the incident:
“Following tonight’s event on Flight 1282, we have decided to take the precautionary step of temporarily grounding our fleet of 65 Boeing 737-9 aircraft. Each aircraft will be returned to service only after completion of full maintenance and safety inspections. We anticipate all inspections will be completed in the next few days.”
Followed by this announcement this morning:
“As of this morning, inspections on more than a quarter of our 737-9 fleet are complete with no concerning findings. Aircraft will return to service as their inspections are completed with our full confidence. “
The Boeing Company made this announcement following the incident:
“We are aware of the incident involving Alaska Airlines Flight 1282. We are working to gather more information and are in contact with our airline customer. A Boeing technical team stands ready to support the investigation.”
ABC News found that this aircraft received certification for flight two months ago. The Chinese and Indian government civil aviation authorities have both ordered inspections of all their 737 MAX-9 airframes, but have not issued suspensions.
The 737 MAX has suffered recurring failures in the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), causing two fatal crashes, Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302; 346 people were killed.
The MAX series was grounded worldwide from March 2019 to November 2020. The FAA garnered criticism for defending the aircraft and was the last major authority to ground it. That lesson has patently been learned as the FAA is now the first to ground the fleet.
The investigation found fraudulent certification of the system by Boeing officials, as of 2021 Boeing has paid 2.1B USD in fines. By December 2023, 180 countries out of 195 had cleared the MAX to return to service, including China which was one of the last.