Boeing has completed plug door inspections of 40 grounded 737 MAX 9 planes, a process that was requested by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The additional plug door checks were required by the FAA after the initial inspection and maintenance instructions proposed by Boeing did not provide enough data.
Boeing must set out an “extensive and rigorous inspection and maintenance process” for approval by the FAA before any of the grounded 737 MAX-9 aircraft can return to service.
On January 17, 2024, the FAA confirmed it had received the necessary plug door data from Boeing and it will now “thoroughly” review the paperwork before any final inspections of the grounded aircraft can take place.
“All 737-9 MAX aircraft with door plugs will remain grounded pending the FAA’s review and final approval of an inspection and maintenance process that satisfies all FAA safety requirements. Once the FAA approves an inspection and maintenance process, it will be required on every grounded 737-9 MAX prior to future operation,” the FAA said in a statement.
The FAA is investigating Boeing’s manufacturing practices and production lines, including those involving subcontractor Spirit AeroSystems.
On January 16, 2024, Boeing confirmed that Admiral Kirkland H. Donald, who spent eight years ensuring US nuclear-powered warships ran safely and effectively, will lead a review of Boeing’s Quality Management System for commercial aircraft.
This came after the CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Stan Deal, set out a number of steps the planemaker would take to restore the trust of customers and the FAA.
Measures include allowing 737 MAX operators to come into Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems factories for additional oversight inspections and bringing in an “outside party” to review its Quality Management System.
The FAA has grounded a total of 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9s, including 65 Alaska Airlines jets, after a plug door separated from an Alaska Airlines aircraft at just over 16,000 feet in the air.
The incident occurred on January 5, 2024, shortly after takeoff from Portland International Airport (PDX) while flying to Ontario International Airport (ONT) in California.