Boeing issues 737 Max 9 inspection instructions, advising airlines on the necessary inspections to avert a recurrence of the midair fuselage explosion that occurred late last week on Alaska Airlines.
However, as preliminary maintenance inspections commence, United Airlines Holdings Inc. announced that it has discovered indications of "installation issues" in a subset of its aircraft, highlighting the scrutiny Boeing and one of its largest suppliers are under as authorities investigate the accident's cause.
A white airplane on the ground
The company verified that early on Monday, Boeing issued guidelines to airlines regarding the inspection of the 737 MAX 9 fleet. This comes after U.S. regulators grounded 171 MAX aircraft on Saturday in the wake of an accident in which an Alaska Airlines jet's cabin panel tore off in midair.
Formally referred to as a multi-operator message, the instructions are a crucial component that enables airlines to certify that inspections have been carried out by the directive issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. Such certification would subsequently permit the re-operation of the aircraft.
In a letter to employees, Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief Stan Deal stated:
We agree with and fully support the FAA’s decision to require immediate inspections of 737-9 MAX airplanes with the same configuration as the affected airplane.- Stan Deal
Our teams have been working diligently - with thorough FAA review - to provide comprehensive, technical instructions to operators for the required inspections. This morning, our team issued the instructions via a multi-operator message.
737 Max 9 fleets across the globe exceed two hundred in number. Alaska Airlines operates 65 737 Max 9s, while United Airlines operates 79. The remaining portion is distributed among other airlines. The agency said in a statement Monday:
The FAA’s priority is always keeping Americans safe. “In that spirit, Boeing 737-9 aircraft will remain grounded until operators complete enhanced inspections which include both left and right cabin door exit plugs, door components, and fasteners. Operators must also complete corrective action requirements based on findings from the inspections prior to bringing any aircraft back into service.- Federal Aviation Administration
The FAA ordered the temporary grounding of 171 Boeing MAX 9 jets on Saturday. Immediately after takeoff from Portland, Oregon, a brand-new MAX 9 experienced a door plug detachment.
A door-shaped panel detached during the ascent of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 from Portland, Oregon, causing the incident. Following departure, the aircraft descended to an approximate altitude of 16,000 feet before retracing its path and returning to Portland 20 minutes later. Jennifer Homendy, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, attributed the absence of serious injuries to mere fortuitous circumstances.
The affected fleet of Boeing MAX 9 aircraft, including those operated by other carriers like United, will remain grounded until the U.S. regulator is persuaded they are safe to fly, the regulator announced on Sunday.
Boeing stock fell 6.6% in trading on Monday, although it recovered from the day's lows.
Boeing Co. initiated the process of resuming service for its grounded 737 Max 9 jetliners by providing airlines with guidance on the necessary inspections after a structural failure that occurred in flight late last week.
The so-called multi-operator message provides comprehensive directives regarding the procedures that must be executed before rescinding a grounding order issued by the Federal Aviation Administration after the incident that occurred on an Alaska Airlines flight on January 5.