Boeing 737 Max 9 planes grounded after a cabin panel blowout

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an order mandating the temporary grounding of certain Boeing 737 Max 9 planes for safety inspections following an incident involving an Alaska Airlines flight. The incident occurred when a cabin panel was lost mid-flight, prompting safety concerns. The affected plane, in service since November, managed to land safely at Portland International Airport without major injuries, although one flight attendant sustained minor injuries during the incident.

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FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker emphasized the prioritization of safety in the decision-making process, stating, β€œThe FAA is requiring immediate inspections of certain Boeing 737 Max 9 planes before they can return to flight.” The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is conducting an investigation into the Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 incident, and the FAA’s actions are aligned with the ongoing safety probe.

In response to the incident, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci announced the grounding of the airline’s entire fleet of 65 Boeing 737-9 aircraft for a few days to conduct comprehensive safety checks. Minicucci assured that each aircraft would only return to service after completing full maintenance and safety inspections. The FAA’s directive extends the grounding to approximately 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 airplanes globally, operated by US airlines or within US territory.

The National Transportation Safety Board is actively investigating the details of Flight 1282, and Alaska Airlines pledged full cooperation with the investigative process. The incident occurred during a flight to Ontario, California, with reports indicating that the cabin panel loss occurred at an altitude of approximately 16,000 feet. Social media posts shared by passengers depicted the dramatic scene of a significant hole in the cabin, exposing the sky.

Boeing’s 737 Max faced a previous grounding lasting nearly two years after fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. The crashes resulted in a total of 346 fatalities. In 2021, Boeing reached a $2.5 billion settlement with the Department of Justice to avoid criminal charges related to the crashes.