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FAA lays out inspection plan to get Boeing 737 Max 9s back in the air

The jets were grounded after an incident in which a door plug flew off a Max 9 jet midflight, forcing an emergency landing.
View of a plane body on the tarmac
Posted at 10:24 AM, Jan 25, 2024

The Federal Aviation Administration is laying out an extensive inspection plan to get Boeing 737 Max 9 planes back in service. 

The jets were grounded following an incident earlier this month in which a door plug flew off the aircraft midflight, leaving a gaping hole in the plane full of passengers.

"The Jan. 5 Boeing 737-9 MAX incident must never happen again," said the FAA in a press release

The administration issued an enhanced inspection and maintenance process after reviewing data from 40 grounded planes. The process will require the inspection of specific bolts, guide tracks and fittings, detailed visual inspections of door plugs and related components, retorquing fasteners and correcting any damage or abnormal conditions.

"We grounded the Boeing 737-9 MAX within hours of the incident over Portland and made clear this aircraft would not go back into service until it was safe," FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said in a press release. "The exhaustive, enhanced review our team completed after several weeks of information gathering gives me and the FAA confidence to proceed to the inspection and maintenance phase." 

"However, let me be clear: This won't be back to business as usual for Boeing," he said. "We will not agree to any request from Boeing for an expansion in production or approve additional production lines for the 737 MAX until we are satisfied that the quality control issues uncovered during this process are resolved."

The FAA says it will hold Boeing accountable to the highest standard of safety. The administration laid out a series of actions to increase oversight of Boeing's production lines.

"The quality assurance issues we have seen are unacceptable," Whitaker said. "That is why we will have more boots on the ground closely scrutinizing and monitoring production and manufacturing activities." 

The FAA is continuing to support the investigation into the plane that lost its door plug — Flight 1282 operated by Alaska Airlines — that is being conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Boeing attempts damage control in meeting with Congress
Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun speaks briefly with reporters

Boeing attempts damage control in meeting with Congress

Boeing's CEO met with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., Wednesday to discuss the safety of the company's 737 Max 9 jets.