MAX 9s are back in the skies, Alaska Airlines COO sits next to emergency door

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane registration number N975AK parked at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport - Honolulu, Hawaii, USA - 2022

Alaska Airlines and United Airlines have resumed flying Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets after getting the all clear from US regulators.

MAX 9 jets were grounded after an Alaska Airlines MAX 9 door plug blew out mid-flight at the beginning of the month, leading the aircraft to make an emergency landing. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States then ordered the plane’s grounding which, alongside the door blow-out, contributed to $35b wiped off Boeing’s stock price since the start of the year.

United took its first MAX 9 flight with passengers since the emergency from Newark for Las Vegas, while Alaska’s MAX 9 resumption was led with a flight from Seattle to San Diego where the carrier’s chief operation officer (COO), Constance von Muehlen, sat next to the door plug.

United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 (iStock/Wirestock)

The FAA lifted its grounding order late last week after it approved new inspection and maintenance checks. Boeing has been told that it can’t expand 737 MAX production or add new 737 production lines until quality improvements have been made, according to Reuters.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Stan Deal said his company is heavily focused on helping airlines restore operations in a message to Boeing employees.

“Our long-term focus is on improving our quality so that we can regain the confidence of our customers, our regulator and the flying public,” he wrote.

“Frankly, we have disappointed and let them down. We are deeply sorry for the significant disruption and frustration for our customers, some of whom have been publicly and unfairly criticised,” he added.

In Australia, no carriers fly MAX 9 jets but Virgin and Bonza both use MAX 8s, while Virgin also has MAX 10 planes on order.

“The existing order of MAX-10s, with an expected delivery from late 2025, remains in place,” Virgin Australia wrote in a statement. “Virgin Australia also expects delivery of 11 Max-8 aircraft throughout this year, equating to delivery of one new aircraft almost every month,” the airline continued.

Alaska Airlines said it expects the inspections of its MAX 9 jets to be completed by the end of this week. The grounding impacted about 20 per cent of its fleet.

(Featured Image: Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX – iStock/Michael Vi)

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