Boeing to revise 737 Max 9 inspection instructions as planes remain grounded, FAA says

An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft is grounded at Los Angeles International Airport in California on Jan. 8, 2024.

Eric Thayer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing will revise inspection instructions for its 737 Max 9 planes after a panel blew out midflight last week during an Alaska Airlines flight and after Alaska and United Airlines identified loose hardware on planes of the same model type during preliminary checks, the Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday.

The FAA grounded dozens of the jets following that Alaska Airlines incident, and Boeing on Monday issued instructions for inspecting the jets, which were approved by the FAA.

Revisions to multi-operator messages, which contain the instructions, can be based on feedback from airlines, the company or inspectors.

“Boeing offered an initial version of instructions yesterday which they are now revising because of feedback received in response. Upon receiving the revised version of instructions from Boeing the FAA will conduct a thorough review,” the FAA said in a statement Tuesday.

“Every Boeing 737-9 Max with a plug door will remain grounded until the FAA finds each can safely return to operation,” the agency said. “The safety of the flying public, not speed, will determine the timeline for returning the Boeing 737-9 Max to service.”

Boeing said in a statement Tuesday it is in close contact with customers and the FAA.

“As part of the process, we are making updates based on their feedback and requirements,” the company said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said its investigation into the Alaska Airlines accident is focused on what failed in the blown-out door plug on the nearly brand-new 737 Max 9.

An NTSB official said at a press conference on Monday night that on the flight, all 12 stops that help the door to stay place “became disengaged, allowing it to blow out of the fuselage.” Guide tracks on the door were also fractured. The official said the NTSB hasn’t recovered the bolts that hold it in place and haven’t determined “if they existed there.”

The NTSB will analyze the door that blew out further at its lab in Washington. The door was found by an Oregon school teacher, the agency said earlier this week.

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