The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given Boeing the green light to resume flights for its 737 MAX 9 jets. The move follows a detailed inspection and maintenance process mandated by the FAA for Boeing’s 171 grounded 737-9 MAX aircraft, ensuring their eligibility to return to service. United and Alaska airlines have both announced their plans to resume flights of their grounded 737 Max 9 aircraft, having received the final approval from the FAA for the necessary procedures.
The FAA’s roadmap for the return to service comes after an incident involving an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 plane, where an exit door plug was lost during a flight, prompting a federal investigation. The incident led to the grounding of the affected aircraft and raised concerns about their safety. Both Alaska and United airlines reported issues with loose hardware following the incident.
The FAA has emphasized that it will not grant any production expansion for the MAX, including the 737-9 MAX, citing the necessity to prevent a recurrence of the January 5 Boeing 737-9 MAX incident. This incident triggered a comprehensive review, and FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker stated that while they are moving to the inspection and maintenance phase, it will not be “back to business as usual for Boeing.”
In response, United Airlines expressed its hope to resume flights with the grounded planes on Sunday, while Alaska Airlines aims to reintroduce the first of its grounded planes into scheduled commercial service on Friday. Both airlines had voiced frustration with Boeing in the aftermath of the mid-flight incident.
The FAA’s stringent approach reflects a commitment to ensuring safety and quality control. Administrator Mike Whitaker made it clear that Boeing will not be allowed any production expansion or additional production lines for the 737 MAX until the identified quality control issues are satisfactorily resolved.
Boeing responded by expressing its commitment to cooperation with the FAA, pledging transparency and stating that it will work closely with airline customers during the required inspection procedures for the safe return of their 737-9 airplanes to service. Boeing’s eagerness to scale up MAX 9 production is seen as a competitive move against Airbus, which has been outperforming Boeing in the commercial jet industry. Airlines are keen on acquiring more planes due to rising travel demand.