Boeing 737-9 Max Resumes Operations After Safety Incident

Following a safety incident where a Boeing 737-9 Max aircraft experienced a cabin wall detachment shortly after takeoff, Alaska Airlines has resumed operations with this aircraft type.

The Boeing 737-9 Max is flying again

A Boeing 737-9 Max aircraft lost part of its cabin wall shortly after takeoff in the USA and had to make an emergency landing. Aircraft of this type were grounded and inspected. Now, the first Boeing has taken off again.

Three weeks after the dramatic emergency landing of a Boeing 737-9 Max due to a lost cabin wall part, US airline Alaska Airlines has resumed operations with this aircraft type. The first Boeing flew from Seattle in the western state of Washington to the major city of San Diego in southern California on Friday.

On board was Constance von Muehlen, the top manager responsible for operational business. She said to US broadcaster CBS that she wouldn’t ask passengers to do anything she wouldn’t do herself. Alaska Airlines is ready to rebook customers who do not want to board the Boeing 737-9 Max onto other aircraft.

Cabin wall ripped out – no injuries

Alaska Airlines plans to complete the inspections required by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on all of its 65 Boeing 737-9 Max aircraft by the end of next week. “Each of our 737-9 Max aircraft will only be put back into operation once the thorough inspections are completed and each aircraft is deemed airworthy according to FAA regulations,” explained the airline. This process takes up to twelve hours per aircraft.

On January 5th, a nearly brand-new Boeing 737-9 Max from Alaska Airlines had part of its cabin wall fly out shortly after takeoff in Portland, Oregon. In some configurations of this aircraft type with more seats, there is a door at that spot. However, the variant involved has a cover that fills the opening. Due to a fortunate coincidence, the two seats directly at that location were vacant.

No one was injured in the incident, but according to experts, it could have led to a catastrophe. The aircraft had to turn back and make an emergency landing in Portland.

All aircraft must be inspected

As a result, the FAA issued a temporary flight ban for aircraft of this type. 171 aircraft were affected. Alaska and United Airlines also found loose fasteners at that spot on other aircraft. On Wednesday, the FAA approved an inspection protocol that will allow the resumption of flights of this aircraft type. The airlines must inspect certain bolts, sockets, and other components.

On Friday, Alaska Airlines added two more 737-9 Max aircraft to its flight schedule and plans to inspect all 65 of its aircraft of this type by the end of January. The fasteners will be inspected every two years after that. United also plans to return its first aircraft to the sky over the weekend.

Due to the temporary flight ban, Alaska Airlines had to cancel 3,000 flights. The airline estimated the damage at $150 million (approximately 139 million euros).