Seattle, Washington – U.S. regulators have issued a temporary grounding of specific Boeing 737 MAX 9 jetliners for safety inspections after a recent emergency landing. During takeoff from Portland, Oregon, a section of fuselage tore off the left side of an Alaska Airlines jet, forcing the pilots to return and land safely with all passengers and crew on board.
The incident, which occurred on Friday, involved a plane that had been in service for only eight weeks. The cause of the apparent structural failure is now under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. The FAA has ordered inspections and potential repairs for Boeing 737 MAX 9s equipped with a special door replacement “plug.” These aircraft will remain grounded until they have been inspected and any necessary repairs have been completed.
Social media posts from passengers on the Alaska Airlines flight showed deployed oxygen masks and a missing section of the aircraft’s side wall. The area where the panel blew out corresponds to the space for an extra door, which is not activated on Alaska Airlines’ planes.
A total of 171 MAX 9 planes are covered by the FAA inspection directive, though the exact number requiring new inspections is unknown at this time. Both Alaska Airlines and United Airlines use the MAX 9 model, with Alaska Airlines voluntarily grounding its fleet of 65 planes for inspections. United Airlines also suspended service on approximately 45 MAX 9 aircraft, resulting in flight cancellations for both carriers.
Boeing, currently awaiting certification for its Max 7 and Max 10 models, expressed support for the FAA’s decision. Meanwhile, foreign regulators, including China, have expressed interest in the details of the incident. The circumstances surrounding this emergency landing differ from the crashes that previously grounded the Boeing MAX fleet.
This latest incident highlights ongoing concerns surrounding the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which has faced production issues since the previous grounding. Boeing, along with airlines and regulatory bodies, will continue to prioritize safety inspections and investigations to ensure passenger well-being.