US orders Boeing 737 Max 9 planes grounded after Alaska Airlines blowout

US regulators have ordered the temporary grounding of 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft following a cabin panel blowout late Friday that forced a brand-new airplane operated by Alaska Airlines to make an emergency landing.

“The FAA is requiring immediate inspections of certain Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes before they can return to flight,” said Mike Whitaker, a Federal Aviation Administration administrator, on Saturday. “Safety will continue to drive our decision-making as we assist the NTSB’s [National Transportation Safety Board] investigation into Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.”

In their own statement, Boeing officials said: “We agree with and fully support the FAA’s decision to require immediate inspections of 737-9 airplanes with the same configuration as the affected plane.”

The company added: “Safety is our top priority, and we deeply regret the impact this event has had on our customers and their passengers.”

The European Union aviation safety regulator adopted the FAA’s MAX 9 directive but noted no EU member state airlines “currently operate an aircraft in the affected configuration.” A British air safety regulator said it would require any 737 MAX 9 operator to comply with the FAA directive to enter its airspace.

Alaska Airlines first grounded all of its Boeing 737 Max 9 planes on Saturday morning after a window and a chunk of fuselage blew out on one of the aircraft in mid-air shortly after takeoff.

One of the Boeing 737 Max 9s belonging to Alaska Airlines had to make an emergency landing shortly after taking off from Portland, Oregon, on Friday.

A passenger sent the broadcaster KATU-TV a photo showing a gaping hole in the side of the airplane next to passenger seats. The airline said the plane, carrying 174 passengers and six crew members, landed safely.

Evan Smith, who was among those on board, told KATU that a boy sitting in a row with his mother had his shirt sucked off him and out of the plane. “His mother was holding on to him,” he said. “You heard a big loud bang to the left rear. A whooshing sound and all the oxygen masks deployed instantly and everyone got those on.”

In an emailed statement, Alaska Airlines said: “Flight 1282 from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California, experienced an incident this evening soon after departure.”

On Saturday morning the company said it had taken the “precautionary step of temporarily grounding our fleet of 65 Boeing Max-9 aircraft”.

The head of the NTSB said that the two seats next to the portion of fuselage that blew out were unoccupied, which prevented the situation turning into something “more tragic”.

The Boeing 737 Max 9 at the center of Friday’s events rolled off the assembly line and received its certification two months ago, according to online FAA records. Boeing said it was working to gather more information and was ready to support the investigation.

Alaska Air and United Airlines are the only US carriers using the Max 9. Alaska Air canceled 160 flights on Saturday, or 20% of scheduled trips, while United canceled 104 flights or 4% of departures.

The Max is the newest version of Boeing’s venerable 737, a twin-engine, single-aisle plane frequently used on US domestic flights. The plane went into service in May 2017.

Two Max 8 planes crashed in 2018 and 2019, killing 346 people and leading to a near two-year worldwide grounding of all Max 8 and Max 9 planes. They returned to service only after Boeing made changes to an automated flight-control system implicated in the crashes.

Max deliveries have been interrupted at times to fix manufacturing flaws. In December, the company told airlines to inspect the planes for a possible loose bolt in the rudder-control system. The Guardian

Fiscal Nepal |
Sunday January 7, 2024, 01:33:43 PM |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *