The Federal Aviation Administration announced the extended grounding on Tuesday, January 9, 2024.
Inspected Plug Door Reveals Issues Across 737 MAX 9 Deliveries
The issues which caused the blowout could be related to bolts holding the plug doors in place. The New York Times reports the National Transportation Safety Board is actively investigating a theory that the bolts were not installed on the Alaska Airlines aircraft which experienced the blowout.
The discovery of the door in a Portland neighborhood could also provide clues to the origin of the issue. In comments to CNN, NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy said the piece “was the missing piece in the investigation,” and will aid the investigation into the final cause.
The issue of loose or missing bolts on the 737 MAX 9 plug doors may not be exclusive to those delivered to Alaska over time. According to The Washington Post, United Airlines also found “loose bolts and other issues” with their fleet of MAX 9 airframes.
As a result of the investigation and new issues, the FAA announced the aircraft would be grounded once again until they find “each can safely return to operation.” The new grounding only affects the 737 MAX 9 – other MAX family aircraft may continue flying for airlines.
“To begin this process, Boeing must provide instructions to operators for inspections and maintenance,” the FAA statement reads. “Boeing offered an initial version of instructions yesterday which they are now revising because of feedback received in response.”
The FAA reiterated that aircraft safety and not speed will determine when the MAX 9 can once again carry passengers in the United States.
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Feature Image Courtesy: Clemens Vasters/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 DEED
Source: frugal travel guy