What airlines, regulators are doing about Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets

There are about 215 737 MAX 9 jets in service in total

By Reuters

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An Alaska airlines plane seen at Los Angeles International Airport. — AFP
An Alaska airlines plane seen at Los Angeles International Airport. — AFP

Published: Mon 8 Jan 2024, 5:45 PM

Last updated: Mon 8 Jan 2024, 5:58 PM

The latest setback for Boeing’s top-selling 737 MAX aircraft occurred on Friday when a panel blew off an Alaska Airlines plane forcing its pilots to make an emergency landing.

US regulators have ordered a temporary grounding for safety checks on 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets installed with the same panel.

There are about 215 737 MAX 9 jets in service in total, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium.

Five years ago two deadly crashes of Boeing 737 MAX planes triggered a worldwide grounding of all MAX jets.

Here’s what regulators and airlines are doing as a result of the latest incident:

Regulators:

US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): The FAA issued a directive on Saturday temporarily grounding certain 737 MAX 9 planes until inspections are performed, affecting 171 aircraft.

US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB): The independent US agency has opened an investigation.

Brazil: Brazil’s aviation regulator ANAC said on Sunday the FAA ruling automatically applies to all flights in Brazil. In Brazil, only Copa Airlines operates the plane, it said.

Canada: Transport Canada on Sunday said there are no Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes in use by Canadian operators.

China: China’s regulator has sought details on the incident, a person familiar with the matter said on Saturday. Bloomberg reported earlier that China, the first country to ground MAX flights in 2019, was considering whether to take action.

European Union: The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) adopted the FAA directive, but noted no EU member state airlines operate aircraft with the affected configuration.

India: India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said on Monday that one-time inspections it had ordered of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft had been performed satisfactorily. None of the country’s airlines fly the 737 MAX 9 model.

Indonesia: Indonesia grounded three Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes operated by Lion Air on Jan. 6, a transport ministry spokesperson said. The spokesperson added that the planes had different configurations from the Alaska Airlines plane. The ministry will coordinate with the FAA, Boeing and Lion Air to monitor the situation, adding that “operational safety will be our priority”.

UK: The UK Civil Aviation Authority said on Saturday there are no UK-registered planes affected. It will require any 737 MAX 9 operators entering its airspace to comply with the FAA directive.

UAE: The civil aviation said on Sunday that none of its national carriers have planes affected by the order.

Airlines:

Alaska Airlines: The airline grounded all 65 Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes in its fleet early on Saturday, but later returned 18 to service following earlier maintenance checks on the FAA’s order.

The carrier said it had cancelled 170 flights on Sunday with 60 more flights being cancelled on Monday following the FAA order.

United Airlines: The only other US airline that operates the jets said it temporarily suspended service on all 737 MAX 9 aircraft to run inspections required by the FAA.

Earlier, it had said that of its 79 MAX 9 airplanes, about 33 had been inspected as required by the aviation regulator.

United cancelled 230 flights on Sunday, or 8% of its scheduled departures.

Copa Airlines: Panamanian carrier said on Saturday it had temporarily grounded 21 737 MAX 9 aircraft and that it “expects to return these aircraft safely and reliably to the flight schedule within the next 24 hours”. Some delays and cancellations were expected.

As of end-September, the carrier had 26 737 MAX 9 in its fleet in two configurations.

Fiji Airways: The Fijian flag carrier said on Monday it was unaffected by the FAA grounding of Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft.

Turkish Airlines: The airline said on Sunday it has withdrawn five aircraft from service for inspection. The planes will be grounded at the first airport they land at.

Aeromexico: The airline said on Sunday it had grounded affected jets for inspection.

Icelandair: Icelandair said on Monday it is not affected by the FAA grounding of Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft.

“It has been confirmed that the issue is related to equipment that is not a part of Icelandair’s Boeing 737 MAX 9 configuration,” said a spokesperson for the airline, which operates four of the aircraft.


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