FAA Lifts Grounding Order on Boeing 737 MAX 9, United and Alaska Resume Flights

Summary

  • United commences its first MAX 9 flight with passengers since Jan. 6, departing from Newark for Las Vegas.
  • FAA has lifted its grounding order on the Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets, following the assurance of new inspection and maintenance checks.
  • Alaska Airlines resumes its MAX 9 service and plans to complete inspections on all its MAX 9 by the end of next week.
  • Boeing puts significant efforts into working out inspection criteria that would allow aircraft to be put back in service.

First MAX 9 Flight since Grounding

United announced that it has successfully flown its first MAX 9 since Jan. 6, departing from Newark for Las Vegas at 10:30 a.m. ET (1530 GMT). The flight carried 175 passengers and six crew members. The Chicago-based airline anticipates more passenger flights to be operated on MAX 9s from Saturday.

Grounding of MAX 9s

Following the blowout of a cabin panel on Jan. 5 on an eight-week-old MAX 9 operated by Alaska Airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration made the decision to ground 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets. This led to the cancellation of countless flights by Alaska Airlines and United.

FAA lifts Grounding Order

A green signal was given by FAA on Wednesday as they announced the lifting of the grounding order. This decision came after the approval of new inspection and maintenance checks and a stipulation that Boeing could not extend the production of 737 MAX or introduce new production lines until quality improvements are evident.

Necessary Maintenance Processes for the 737 MAX 9

The enhanced maintenance process for MAX 9 requires inspection of certain bolts, guide tracks, fittings along with detailed visual inspections of mid-cabin exit door plugs and related components.

Alaska Airlines has checked back into MAX 9 service on Friday. CBS News reported that Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen of the airline was a passenger on the first MAX 9 flight post-grounding.

Return of Flights to Normalcy

Alaska Airlines has communicated its anticipation of completing inspections on all its MAX 9 by the end of the next week. This will allow them to operate at its full flight schedule. About 20% of its fleet was affected by the grounding.

In a communication to employees on Friday, Boeing Commercial Airlines President, Stan Deal, mentioned that the company has diligently created inspection criteria to allow aircraft re-entry into service. Boeing is now assessing hundreds of ideas for quality improvements submitted by their employees.

The incidents revolving around Boeing’s 737 MAX 9 and the subsequent regulatory responses and airline actions could impact the currency markets. Significant shifts in Boeing’s stock prices could potentially also affect the entire US stock market and thus the US Dollar.

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