Alaska Airlines returned its Boeing 737 MAX 9 fleet to service on the evening of January 26, 2024, after having thoroughly inspected a first batch of aircraft and receiving the approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The first flight after the grounding was lifted was AS1146, which departed Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) for San Diego (SAN) at 3.33pm local time, with Alaska Airlines’ chief operating officer was on the flight, sitting in the seat closest to the door that caused the incident on the other aircraft. The plane landed in San Diego 2 hours and 42 minutes later without incident.
The FAA grounded 170 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft operating in the US on January 6, 2024, after the rear door of one such aircraft was blown out mid air due to loose bolts.
This incident prompted the grounding and thorough examination of Boeing 737 MAX 9 fleets worldwide and triggered new concerns about Boeing’s quality controls, given the previous history of incidents that tarnished the reputation of its 737 MAX program.
The finding of similarly untightened bolts on some aircraft during this investigation has triggered new concerns about the safety credentials of this aircraft type as well as about the Boeing 737-900ER, which uses the same type of door plug.
A search on the ch-aviation database shows that, as of January 2024, there are 217 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft operated by 13 different airlines around the world. Another 136 of the type are in the order book of 11 carriers.