2024 isn’t off to a good start for Boeing, after a deactivated emergency exit blew out inflight on an Alaska Boeing 737 MAX 9. Unfortunately the production quality issues don’t seem to be an isolated incident, as inspections of other 737 MAX 9s have revealed some loose screws in the same area on other aircraft.
The United Stated Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is now taking serious action, and it could have an impact on the ability of airlines to operate their schedules.
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FAA notifies Boeing it’s conducting an investigation
The FAA has today released a statement indicating that the regulatory body is investigating Boeing over this incident, and that passenger safety, rather than speed, will determine when the 737 MAX 9 flies again. Here’s the statement:
This incident should have never happened and it cannot happen again. FAA formally notified Boeing that it is conducting an investigation to determine if Boeing failed to ensure completed products conformed to its approved design and were in a condition for safe operation in compliance with FAA regulations. This investigation is a result of an incident on a Boeing Model 737-9 MAX where it lost a “plug” type passenger door and additional discrepancies. Boeing’s manufacturing practices need to comply with the high safety standards they’re legally accountable to meet.
The safety of the flying public, not speed, will determine the timeline for returning the Boeing 737-9 MAX to service.
This could have major implications for Boeing and airlines
Obviously issues involving the Boeing 737 MAX feel like déjà vu, just with a different aircraft variant (the 737 MAX 9 rather than the 737 MAX 8). A couple of days ago, I posed the question of whether this would end up being a major issue for Boeing and airlines, or whether planes would be back in service within days, as airlines have been hoping.
Based on this investigation, it sounds to me like this might be way more complicated than that, and that 737 MAX 9s might not be flying anytime soon. After all, stating that the safety of the flying public and not speed will determine the timeline for returning the jet to service is pretty clear, since no one can say with 100% confidence that this couldn’t happen again.
An investigation like this isn’t going to take just a few days, and if the FAA intends to be thorough, I’d expect this to draw out for quite an extended period of time.
Here in the United States, this has the biggest implications for Alaska and United, as the airlines have roughly 65 and 80 of these jets, respectively. If those planes need to remain out of service for an extended period of time, this is going to hugely impact their ability to operate their networks.
The FAA is now formally investigating Boeing over the latest 737 MAX issues. The FAA has made it clear that these planes will only return to service once a thorough investigation has been performed, ensuring the flying public is safe, with speed not being a consideration. Given the history of Boeing trying to hide things from the FAA, I’d expect this to have a major impact on airlines.
How do you see this playing out?