Boeing 737 Max 9 Grounded Globally Following Alaska Airlines Emergency

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered the immediate grounding and inspection of approximately 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft worldwide, prompted by a mid-flight emergency involving an Alaska Airlines plane. The incident occurred when Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, en route from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California, experienced a sudden issue, leading to an emergency landing. The FAA, alongside the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), is investigating the occurrence.

@strawberr.vy Girls’ trip turned into emergency landing trip… #alaska #alaskaair ♬ original sound - vy 🍓

In response to the FAA's directive, Alaska Airlines initiated a fleet-wide inspection, leading to the grounding of its Boeing 737 Max 9 planes. United Airlines also suspended service on some of its Max 9 aircraft as per the FAA's instructions, resulting in approximately 60 flight cancellations. Southwest Airlines and American Airlines clarified that they do not operate Boeing 737 Max 9s, alleviating concerns over their fleets.

Simultaneously, India's aviation regulator mandated immediate inspections of all Boeing Max 737 aircraft owned by domestic operators, although none are believed to be of the model involved in the Portland incident.

A gaping hole could be seen in the side of the aircraft. Pic: Kyle Rinker 

The recent events follow Boeing's recommendation to the FAA to inspect 737 Max jets for loose bolts after the discovery of improperly tightened nuts on at least two planes. Boeing expressed support for the FAA's call for inspections, emphasizing safety as its top priority and expressing regret for any impact on customers.

Alaska Airlines reported the completion of inspections on over a quarter of its Boeing 737 Max 9 fleet, with no concerning findings. The airline plans to return the planes to service once all inspections are finalized, expressing confidence in their safety. The comprehensive inspections for all 65 of Alaska Airlines' Max 9 aircraft are expected to conclude in the next few days.

The rear mid-cabin exit door appeared to have separated from the aircraft. Pic: KGW 

The grounding raises concerns about the troubled history of the Boeing 737 Max, marked by fatal crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019, resulting in a global suspension. Investigations revealed issues with the aircraft's flight control system, particularly the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which erroneously nosedived due to faulty sensor inputs.

Boeing faced criticism for not informing regulators about critical changes to the flight control system, leading to expedited certification. In 2021, Boeing agreed to a settlement of over $2.5 billion, including a criminal penalty and funds for the families affected by the crashes. Despite the settlement, the recent emergency has reignited concerns about the safety and oversight of the Boeing 737 Max series, prompting swift regulatory action. 

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