FAA Orders Inspections of 737 MAX Jets after Alaska Airline Incident

Summary

  • The FAA has issued an order purporting to the inspection of 171 airplanes for potential in-flight loss of a mid-cabin door plug. The directive pertains to aircraft that do not meet the required inspection cycles.
  • Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, who operate Boeing’s 737 MAX 9 jets, have suspended service of their jets undergoing inspection. Alaska Airlines resumed service of 18 planes after successful inspection.
  • The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and lawmakers have backed the FAA’s action for the safety of passengers.

FAA’s Directive: Stringent Examination of Aircraft

The intercept pertains to 171 aircraft, leaving unanswered inquiries about the exact inspection conditions and the timeline of recent inspections that must happen before further flights.

Potential In-Flight Threats

According to the FAA, a possible in-flight misplacement of a mid-cabin door plug might result in injury to passengers, crew, impact to the aircraft, or a loss of control of the aircraft.”

Recent Airline Issues

A recent structural failure on an Alaska Airline-operated plane resulted in a rectangular expanse in the fuselage designated for an optional extra door which is often disabled on Alaska’s planes and fitted with a unique door replacement “plug.”

Inspection Guidelines

FAA’s swift order necessitates operators to scrutinize aircraft not adhering to the required inspection cycles. Boeing’s proposed inspection requirements must be approved by the FAA. Inspections are expected to take approximately four to eight hours per aircraft.

Impact on Airlines

Alaska Airlines revealed that after voluntarily grounding its 65 737 MAX 9 jets temporarily early Saturday, 18 underwent exhaustive door plug inspections and were cleared to return to service. United Airlines, told it temporarily suspended service of 45 737 MAX 9 jets but would continue to operate 33 that have already undergone needed inspections per FAA guidelines.

Flight Cancellations

Due to these unexpected hitches, around 140 flights were canceled on Saturday by Alaska, equating to 18% of its scheduled operations. United reported 60 flight cancellations due to this issue.

Support from Union and Lawmakers

In response to this dire situation, Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and Senator Ted Cruz, a prominent lawmaker and oversight committee member, extended their support to FAA’s prompt actions focusing on flight safety.

With a potential impact on the stocks of affected airlines, traders may need to keep a close eye on how these inspections and service suspensions play out. It can possibly influence shares of Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, and Boeing, impacting their trading strategies.

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