Following a new statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the scope of the investigation into Boeing will move from the 737 MAX to the 737-900ER.
FAA Includes Another Variant
The Boeing 737-900ER has been widely flying worldwide for significantly longer than the 737-9, the next-generation aircraft from the MAX.
However, as an added layer of safety, the Federal Aviation Administration recommends that operators of the -900ER visually inspect their aircraft.
Specifically, the inspection should focus on the mid-exit door plugs to ensure the door is secured correctly. This is the focal point of the current investigation into the Alaska Airlines 737-9 incident.
The FAA has clarified that the 737-900ER is not part of the Boeing 737 MAX series but rather the 737 family. However, what makes it included in the investigation is the 737-900ER has the same door plug design as the affected MAX.
Operators are encouraged to conduct a visual inspection to ensure the door plug is restrained from any movements through the two (2) upper guide track bolts and two (2) lower arrestor bolts.Federal Aviation Administration SAFO
Work Has Already Begun
The FAA has noted that while they’re now recommending inspections to take place, some operators of the 737-900ER have already conducted inspections on their fleet of this variant.
This falls directly under operators’ Safety Management Systems. The FAA says that some of these customers have noted findings with bolts during the maintenance inspections.
Onlookers have pushed for these inspections since the 737-9 incident occurred, essentially making note of the identical nature of the 737-9 and 737-900ER plugs.
However, questions now follow a statement from the FAA related to already heavy maintenance checks that these 737-900ERS will have undergone that should have dealt with this if a problem had arisen.
Additionally, some have jokingly highlighted that when these visual inspections occur, the difference in build quality will be more than apparent.
Ultimately, including the 737-900ER as a precautionary safety measure seemed inevitable as it shares the same characteristics as the impacted part of the 737-9.
No Grounding Or Impact
These visual inspections are not expected to impact airlines worldwide, nor will they result in a grounding of the fleet, such as what is occurring with the 737-9.
The United States is the largest operator of the 737-900ER globally, with Delta, United and Alaska Airlines heavily relying on the aircraft. Each of these airlines has either already conducted inspections or is in the process of finalising them.